Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|They Live by Night / Side Street |
Film Noir Double Feature
Actors: Farley Granger, Cathy O'Donnell, James Craig, Paul Kelly, Jean Hagen
Directors: Anthony Mann, Nicholas Ray
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 07/31/2007
"SIDE STREET" IS A FORGOTTEN GEM
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 07/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Nicholas Ray's directoral debut, "THE LIVE BY NIGHT" (1948) is a poignant, noirish love story not unlike the much later "BONNIE AND CLYDE."
But the real gem in this double-feature DVD is Anthony Mann's "SIDE STREET" (1949), a gritty, compelling, crime drama that is a true film noir.
It follows the downward spiral of sympathetic, naive and desperate Farley Granger -- a letter carrier with a pregnant wife -- after he steals some money from a pair of very bad guys. Granger stashes the money with a "friend" and then decides to give it back -- but the friend has hit the road with the loot. The bad guys Granger stole from aren't amused. They are unrelenting in their pursuit of Granger.
The movie goes all the way with the premis. There's a terrific, extended, car chase that is strikingly photographed, perhaps a first of it's kind in a drama and clearly a model for the one in "BULLET."
This is a satisfying, taught film with beautifully composed, stark, BW location cinematography in lower Manhattan that perfectly matches the story. Location as metaphor! Highly recommended."
The Rural South & the Urban North. Two Solid Film Noirs Have
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 12/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""They Live By Night" and "Side Street" are film noirs in which ordinary, flawed men try to extricate themselves from a web of crime and deceit created by their own momentary foolishness. In both cases, the protagonist is pursued by both the law and the hoodlums. "They Live By Night" was shelved for 2 years before it could get a US release, but both films were made under the aegis of executive producer Dore Schary, first at RKO, then at MGM. They both pair actors Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell as sympathetic, if naïve, young couples hurting for money. Curiously, both films establish the narrative's sympathy for its acutely imprudent protagonist from the outset, by means of a prologue or voiceover. I wonder if that is Schary's political activism at work.
"They Live By Night" (RKO 1948) is based on Edward Anderson's novel "Thieves Like Us", adapted for the screen by director Nicholas Ray. Three "lifers" break out of a prison farm. The career criminals T-Dub (Jay C. Flippen) and Chickamaw (Howard Da Silva) bring Bowie (Farley Granger), an enthusiastic but naïve young convict, with them, intending that he be their driver on bank heists. The threesome take temporary refuge with T-Dub's brother and niece Keechie (Cathy O'Donnell). Keechie barely hides her distaste for the thugs but is attracted to the sweet and handsome Bowie. Bowie hopes that they can live well and in peace with his share of a bank job, and the couple run away together. But the police and his partners in crime have other ideas.
Some of the first shots in this film are of a car on a country road photographed from a helicopter. There are more aerial shots later in the story, also of a car. These may have the first helicopter shots to follow a particular object in a commercial film. The storyline is a basic "fugitive couple" variety, on the run with brief interludes of bliss. It has a Depression-era feel, as that's when the novel was written. But "They Live By Night" is distinguished by the extraordinary authenticity of the everyday life scenes and its compassion for two young people on the fringes of society. Rural, poor, not very bright, and from strange, isolated backgrounds, Keechie and Bowie are the extreme of Southern white trash and perhaps too ignorant to realize it.
"Side Street" (MGM 1950) gives the initial impression of a police procedural but is a thriller revolving around a genial mailman sucked into the world of thugs and floozies on account of one moral lapse. Joe Norson (Farley Granger) has recently lost his business and had to move his family in with his in-laws. Doing the rounds one day as a part-time mail carrier, Joe sees a man in a law office stash $200 in a filing cabinet. The next time he delivers mail to that office, he steals a file containing the money, hoping to save his pregnant wife (Cathy O'Donnell) the indignity of delivering their baby in a public clinic. But the file actually contains $30,000, the loot from a blackmail and murder scheme. Now the crooked lawyer's sociopathic henchman Georgie (James Craig) and the police are after him.
This film also opens with a helicopter shot, a breathtaking straight-down view of Manhattan. A car chase near the end of film is one of the few I've seen in New York City, also shot partly from a helicopter, and it is pretty spectacular. "Side Street" spends a lot of time on the streets of New York and is a wonderful document by cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg of how the city looked mid-century. The style is docudrama. The title may refer to the archetypal, inconspicuous working class family that lives down many a street and whose frustrations engender Joe's predicament and the audience's sympathy. Joe doesn't begin in the underworld, but flees to the noir world of betrayal, dark alleys, nightclubs, and chaos in order to track that money down.
The DVD (Warner 2007): There are no scene selection menus. Both films have an audio commentary and featurette. "Side Street" also has a theatrical trailer. "They Live By Night: The Twisted Road" (6 min) interviews film critics, film noir scholars, and Oliver Stone about the film and its themes. The audio commentary for "They Live By Night" is by film noir historian Eddie Muller and actor Farley Granger. They discuss how the film made it to the screen, its delayed release, Ray's direction, the camera work. Granger shares his memory of making the movie. "Side Street: Where Temptation Lies" (6 min) interviews critics and others about Anthony Mann, the cinematography, and themes. The audio commentary for Side Street" is by Richard Schinkel, who discusses the photography, characters, actors, director, screenwriter, and story. Subtitles are available for both films in English SDH and French."
Mcgivern Owen L | NY, NY USA | 10/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"According to Silver and Ward's encyclopedic "Film Noir", MGM bought Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell together again in "Side Street" to capitalize on the success of "They Live By Night". The two films are distinctly dissimilar. TLN is dark and gloomy, shot in rural locations, often at night, with the ending predictable. SS is better lit, accents distinct New York City daytime locales and maintains suspense to the end. While both feature the vulnerable young couple (Granger and O'Donnell), TLN is highly emotional. SS is strangely detached, even including a police narration (!) with an air of a semi-documentary. In both O'Donnell and Granger are 2 good people in a distinctly hostile world where young folks get few breaks. Both releases feature tough criminals but the black hats in TLN are harder cases. In each film, Granger commits a foolish crime when the viewer "knows" he is not a hardcore bad guy. Nicolas Ray maintains a more even pace over 95 minutes in TLN while Anthony Mann forces a frenetic atmosphere over just 83 minutes for SS. Mann also includes 68 (!) characters. Why? There are key scenes: TLN has that scene in the bus station diner that is pure genius. SS shines when a desperate Granger tries to return the stolen loot only to find he can't! One movie has a vastly happier resolution than the other, but a good review would never divulge! One complaint: How does Granger seem so clean in SS just after being beaten up? Didn't his scars heal rather quickly? This reviewer recommends both releases to noir fans but gives the nod to "They Live By Night". Mr. Ray simply maintains a more consistent motif. This reviewer believes that Mr. Mann could have let "Side Street" safely run 90 minutes, allowing the viewer to stay even with the action rather than racing to keep up with it. SS ends with a wheeling police chase through lower Manhattan, ending at the Stock Exchange. Natives will recognize that it was timed for an early Sunday or holiday morning when no one was in the streets. It would have been a trip for Mann to shoot that during a busy weekday!"
Noir double feature
Ronald E. Weber | Springfield Ohio | 07/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent package, combining a true classic of the genre with a rarer piece with which it shares a lot of common connections.
THEY LIVE BY NIGHT is the first screen telling of the novel, THIEVES LIKE US, remade in the 70s with great skill by Robert Altman, This one has a more conventional style from the late forties, but both are totally effective depictions of a pair of young lovers on the lam.
Very moving, tragic. Well performed, all around. The Altman version is one of the best 70s films and this one is every bit as impressive. A lot has been made of its connections to BONNIE AND CLYDE, but unlike those outlaws, these two kids are total innocents, and the two actors are completely believable.
The commentary is good, although not extraordinary. The film historian brings up good points, but Granger doesn't really have many meaningful things to add. Still, it's worthwhile; I'm very glad they chose to have a commentary track.
SIDE STREET is an MGM "B" that had the same two actors, filmed in 1950, two years past NIGHT. It's very nice;
again the leads are totally innocent-types who end up in a maelstrom of trouble due to one false step. It was totally new to me, so I found it to be a perfect bookend to the earlier film. Commentary here was fine, too."