1949

THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1949)

They Live by Night

“This boy and this girl were never properly introduced to the world we live in…” – opening credits

Nicholas Ray lived through the Depression, which isn’t the reason he wore an eye-patch later in life, but it was the reason he was asked to adapt the novel Thieves Like Us by Edward Anderson. Ray found the project to be a very personal one and although RKO producer John Houseman had minor issues with his script, the final result is pretty much what Ray was aiming for. They Live by Night is a blazing debut, nurtured by Houseman, who allowed Ray the creative freedom to experiment. There’s a fairy tale feel to the film that subverts the social realism, as the star-crossed lovers attempt to find happiness in an insensitive world populated with ogres with names like Chicamaw and T-Dub.

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CRISS CROSS (1949)

Criss Cross 1949

Talk about a blueprint for film noir, Robert Siodmak’s Criss Cross lays down an impenetrably stark view of the Los Angeles underworld and one poor sucker who gets trapped in its web. What lured him there? A woman, duh. The title refers to the barrel of bluffs characters dip their heads into – bobbing for salvation. While film noir is known for its doomed heroes and hopelessness, Criss Cross transcends these motifs and reaches this surreal nightmare of despair, obsession, and betrayal unmatched in the golden era.

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