They Drive By Night (1940)

12 Angry Men
Raft, Sheridan and Bogart

''They Drive By Night' is a fast moving drama with a first rate cast. Directed by Raoul Walsh, it stars George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino and Ann Sheridan. Adapted from the novel "The Long Haul" written by A. I. Bezzerides, the movie has aged gracefully and still provides great atmosphere, excitement and dramatic tension.

The film was a big box office success earning over $1 million domestically and $500,000 foreign in its initial run, which is extraordinary considering it was scheduled as a B picture. Shot on a budget of $400,000.00, a modest sum even in 1940, with a cast of Warner Bros stalwarts, none of whom were great stars at the time. It received no Oscar nominations, although Ida Lupino was praised to the skies for her magnificent performance.


The story centres on truck driver Joe Fabrini, played by George Raft, and his brother, Paul, played by Humphrey Bogart, and their fierce desire to work for themselves in a tough business. They manage to buy their own truck, but it gets wrecked when Paul falls asleep at the wheel. Paul loses his right arm in the accident.

Joe is a womaniser but falls head over heels for waitress Cassie, played by Ann Sheridan. The film becomes a murder mystery when Joe goes to work for Ed Carlsen, played by Alan Hale, Sr. Carlsen's wife, played brilliantly by Ida Lupino, has a thing for Joe and eventually murders her husband to try to get him. When she discovers that Joe and Cassie are to wed, she pins the murder on Joe. The ensuing trial is the climax of the film.


In 1940, Warner Bros. offered author, A. I. Bezzerides $2,000 for the movie rights to his successful 1938 novel, 'The Long Haul'. Bezzerides learned later that the script based on his book had already been written.

George Raft was the main star but he strangely has very few dramatic lines to deliver. In contrast both female stars, Sheridan and Lupino are given memorable scenes to exploit and Ida Lupino in particular takes every chance to deliver lines at full throttle, particularly at the pivotal courthouse dénouement scene.

Bogart was fourth billed in this movie and has a subdued, understated role. He was recommended by Raft for Raoul Walsh's next picture, 'High Sierra' in 1941, which would make him into a top Hollywood star. A Raft refusal in the same year allowed him to star in 'The Maltese Falcon' which in turn led to the inimitable 'Casablanca' in 1942.

Main Cast

George Raft ... Joe Fabrini
Ann Sheridan ... Cassie Hartley
Ida Lupino ... Lana Carlsen
Humphrey Bogart ... Paul Fabrini
Gale Page ... Pearl Fabrini
Alan Hale ... Ed J. Carlsen
Roscoe Karns ... "Irish" McGurn
John Litel ... Harry McNamara
George Tobias ... George Rondolos
Uncredited Cast
Henry O'Neill ... District Attorney
Charles Halton ... Farnsworth
Paul Hurst ... Pete Haig
John Ridgely ... Hank Dawson
George Lloyd ... Barney
Joyce Compton ... Sue Carter
Charles Wilson ... Mike Williams
Pedro Regas ... McNamara's Helper
Norman Willis ... Neves
Joe Devlin ... Fatso
William Haade ... Truck Driver
Vera Lewis ... the Landlady
John Hamilton ... Defense Attorney
Eddie Acuff ... Driver at café
Howard Hickman ... Judge


Director ... Raoul Walsh
Producer ... Mark Hellinger
Screenplay ... Jerry Wald, Richard Macaulay
Based on ... the novel 'Long Haul' by A. I. Bezzerides
Music ... Adolph Deutsch
Cinematography ... Arthur Edeson
Format ... B & W
Distribution Company ... Warner Bros.
Release date ... July 27, 1940
Running time ... 95 minutes

Academy Awards

No Nominations: