Thieves Like Us proves that when Robert Altman has a solid story and script, he can make an exceptional film, one mostly devoid of clutter, auterist mannerism, and other cinema chic. It’s a better film than Nicholas Ray’s first jab at the story in 1948 [They Live By Night], the mid-1930s tale of lower-class young love and Dixie bank-robbing.
Edward Anderson’s novel of the same name has, this time, been adapted into a no-nonsense screenplay. Keith Carradine heads the cast as a young prison trustee who escapes with John Schuck to join Bert Remsen in a spree of small-town bank heists. Shelley Duvall and Carradine fall in love, their romance clearly destined for tragedy as the robberies inevitably lead to murders and eventual police capture.