A heartrending story of the lonely life of exiled innocence restlessly searching for home, Ray’s extraordinary film debut reveals the major themes and dark romanticism that would recur across his remarkable career. A clear-eyed tragedy of a sensitive, emotional boy and wise-beyond-her-years girl who find in each other a fleeting solace from a cruel, uncaring world, They Live By Night travels deep into the dark, cold night of the American heartland whose desolation would exert a permanent hold on Ray’s imagination. A hybrid crime thriller and love story – whose bifurcation reflects the conflicting worlds between which its protagonists are caught – They Live By Night features deeply moving, resonant performances from Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell and an immediacy and rawness of emotion that lends an air of desperate poignancy to the doomed lovers.
Tuesday in NovemberDirected by Nicholas Ray and John Berry.
US, 1945, 35mm, black & white, 16 min.
Print source: NARA
This commission by the Office of War Information, officially Ray’s first film, offers a fascinating expression of his deep involvement in the progressive Left movement inspired by the New Deal. A spirited rallying call for democratic citizenship that follows a “typical” election day in small-town California, Tuesday in November boasts a screenplay by Howard Koch and music by Virgil Thompson.