They Drive by Night (1940) - Rotten Tomatoes

They Drive by Night1940

They Drive by Night (1940)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

They Drive by Night Photos

Movie Info

Two hard-boiled truckers are committed to a life as wildcatters.

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Humphrey Bogart
as Paul Fabrini
Alan Hale
as Ed J. Carlsen
Ida Lupino
as Lana Carlsen
George Raft
as Joe Fabrini
Ann Sheridan
as Cassie Hartley
Gale Page
as Pearl Fabrini
John Litel
as Harry McNamara
Roscoe Karns
as "Irish" McGurn
Henry O'Neill
as District Attorney
George Tobias
as George Rondolos
Charles Halton
as Farnsworth
Joyce Compton
as Sue Carter
John Ridgely
as Hank Dawson
Paul Hurst
as Pete Haig
Charles C. Wilson
as Mike Williams
Eddy Chandler
as Truck Driver
Pedro Regas
as Mexican Helper
Alan Davis
as Driver
Al Hill
as Driver
Don Turner
as Driver
Ralph Lynn
as Driver
Frank Mayo
as Driver
George Haywood
as Policeman
Claire James
as Party Guest
Marie Blake
as Waitress
Vera Lewis
as Landlady
Frank Wilcox
as Reporter
William Haade
as Tough Driver
Phyllis Hamilton
as Stenographer
Jack Mower
as Deputy
Carl Harbaugh
as Mechanic
Richard Clayton
as Young Man
Max Wagner
as Sweeney, the Driver
Billy Wayne
as Electrician
Matt McHugh
as Electrician
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Critic Reviews for They Drive by Night

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (5)

The pugnacity of Walsh's comic direction infuses turbulently free enterprise with tragedy.

October 27, 2014 | Full Review…

Fast moving and actionful melodrama of long-haul trucking biz, They Drive clicks with plenty of entertainment content.

July 6, 2010 | Full Review…

For fanciers of hard-boiled cinema, They Drive By Night still offers an entertaining ride.

March 25, 2006 | Full Review…

There's no denying that this overlooked 1940 gem is essentially two films in one.

November 2, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

[Walsh's] personal response to the material puts it across.

January 1, 2000

The result is a square, melodramatic, somewhat contrived film noir, but it can be seen, without a doubt, by Lupino's presence as the obsessive and manipulative femme fatale. [Full review in Spanish]

July 16, 2020 | Rating: 6/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for They Drive by Night


I don't know why there was a fascination with truck drivers in the 40s, but the movies about them always turned out great. This movie is no exception, and it has a great cast.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

a wonderful film. raft and bogart make a solid team and the subject matter is one that most people would never think could make a solid drama. the script is the strength of the film and the acting was superb. The film has layers to it that have to be peeled back to be appreciated.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer


a neglected classic directed by raoul walsh (who also handled the ultimate james cagney gangster classic "white heat"), a star-studded flicks with good wisecrackers from its appealing cast. it's a story about a pair of trucker brothers(raft and bogart) who take the risk of having everything expropriated by the scrivener just to strive for the chances to rise high...then with a twist, everyone seems to obtain what he/she desires at the first place except the dame (lupino) who has an intense crush on george raft's character, consequent with murder, un-requited love and heart-twenching insanity. the first issue with this movie is that it's departed into two gendres of storylines which have been re-blended into one piece: social drama and meldromatic noir. it could be deemed as one flick before humprey bogart's crippling accident. a quaint social drama which discusses the bloody grimness about the prole trucking business, the labour and sweat from the working men, also emblemished with the pleasant romance between raft and ann sheridan, particularly their witty flirtation about "red means stop"...and sheridan utters her quick wits as the dainty waitress whom the customers drool over. lack of his usual mystic aura, bogart still gives a nice performance of a tough trucker even it's not quite riveting, and raft is quite in the right niche of his ambitiously clever truck leader with charisma. the three of them all inspire audience's empathetic approval of their hardship and occupational dignity..a peacefully cozy scenarios with likable characters that shelter you in an easefully relaxed atmosphere.... it all works harmoniously until the emergence of the sharp-tongued spunky ida lupino takes the spotlight from everyone who turns out to be lackluster compared to lupino's deliriously edgy performance as the love-struck rich wife who desperately craves for raft then disposes of her own husband to facilliate herself to court him, eventually ends up in a straitjacket. no one could ignore her running-amok scene in the court room that sets her overnight reputation. this twist transforms the whole flick into a semi-film-noir which is quite uneven. besides it's dealt with thick melodramaticity..(accordingly it was recycled from the plotline of bettie davis' "border town" with paul muni from warner bros.....) but the arrangement of lupino's doom is a bit too coincidental just to deliberately grant audience a crowd-pleasing happy ending. sketchily "they drive by night" is a well-acted movie which is a bit un-usual and deserves more credits and applauds toward today. and it has enough social topicality and flamy dramatization to keep your interests throughout the whole flick. it's worthy taking a view in holiday just to shift into a congenial mood.

Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

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