Friday, November 12, 2010

They Drive By Night (1940)

This scene never happened. But it's a great shot nonetheless!

Poor Bogie. By 1940, he was fed up with all the roles Warner Bros. had been giving him. They Drive By Night (1940), might have been the last straw. Bogie got fourth billing after George Raft, Ann Sheridan and Ida Lupino. Not only that, Ida Lupino, a newcomer to Hollywood, stole the picture from veterans Raft and Bogart with her performance as the evil and downright crazy Lana Carlsen. Bogie played gangsters, a Mexican Bandito, Irish horse handler and has been killed or maimed in a movie in every which way imaginable. They Drive By Night is a good precursor for High Sierra, Bogie's breakout role because this may be the lowest Bogie's career had sunk before he made it big. I mean, c'mon, the guy loses an arm, his job and the means to support his family within the first 30 minutes. And all because his character fell asleep on the job. Then he disappears for the rest of the picture until the very end. Not quite worthy of the great Bogie in my opinion. It was time for Hollywood to wake up and see Bogie for what he really was. In watching this film, I thought it was interesting that the role of Lana Carlsen, a sultry and manipulative wife of a trucking magnate, was given to newcomer Ida Lupino rather than Ann Sheridan who was quite good at playing/being a seductress. At first Sheridan's character Cassie is a wise-cracking tough waitress but she softens into a plain jane/prospective wife when she falls for George Raft. It seemed to me Lupino would have better in that role but I like that Lupino played Lana because boy did she do a good job! George Raft was pretty decent as a good guy trying to make it by in a harsh world. However, every time I see Raft on screen I'm always reminded of his supposed mob connections and of his whirlwind affair with Norma Shearer. The documentary that came with the DVD mentioned that this film is really made up of two different stories. So in a way, you get two movies for the price of one! Or a 1/4 Bogie movie for the price of two non-Bogie films. It's hard to tell if we've been cheated out of a great Bogie performance or treated to a fine Lupino one. It all depends on how you look at it.


  1. I LOOOOOOVE this movie, man it is so much fun and fast moving, great dialogue and Ida is just superb and you're right she steals the show from everyone except Alan Hale who is just friggin hilarious as her hubby! (what a matchup THAT is huh?) I've never been a George Raft fan, to me he usually comes off as a block of wood that speaks, but i do like him in this. And i guess we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to him for making such poor career choices! it is ridiculous that Bogie was given such a minor role at this point. i think part of it is that Bogie never bitched like Cagney, Bette or Olivia did and so they just treated him as a stock player never really capitalizing on his abilities, but it certainly all worked out in the end.
    btw, this is a sort of remake of Bordertown with Bette and Paul Muni which is a dynamite picture in its own right!

  2. I love reading these little mini-reviews (well, they're epic compared to mine!). They make me just want to get out and buy the box-set!

  3. Paul (Paulie, Artman, Whatnot...) - I Heart You for commenting on every single one of these Bogie posts and for your support. I found out that this movie was a remake of Bordertown when I watched the DVD's short doc on the movie. Bordertown is a film I definitely want to see considering I missed watching it during my Latino Images in Film series and it's been languishing on my way too long Classicflix queue. ::sigh:: one of these days.

    George Raft = block of wood (LOL!)

    Niamhy - Hi lady. Yes your posts are really short but you update all the time. Short and to the point is good in my opinion. I have a tendency to ramble.

  4. i HAVE to comment on these films Quelle, this is my sandbox you're playing in right now, lol! seriously though these are the films i was weened on and so yeah they have intense sentimental value to me as well as often being just damn entertaining films. i've never grown tired of them in all these years.
    i'm sure you will find Bordertown most interesting!


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