Sunday, May 31, 2009

THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940) - Raoul Walsh

This second helping of wildcat truckers and their long, hard road was a little tamer and slower than Highway but still a smooth ride. It shares some similar plotlines with Highway, most likely because it too was written by A.I. Bezzerides. There's even another amputation subplot -- this time, old Humphrey Bogart losing his good driving arm after falling asleep behind the wheel. I guess they really didn't have NoDose or cystal meth back in the '40s.

But the best reason to check out TDBN is seeing Ida Lupino slowly crumble into absolute hysterics because she just can't sink her femme fatale mitts deep enough into honest trucker George Raft's heart. It's a great kabuki performance, touches of Bettie Davis in Baby Jane and Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest. What it was doing in a movie about wildcatters and produce hauling, well, you got me.

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