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  1. #21
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theuofc
    As a quick note: given the above definition of an anti-hero, Shorty seems to fit the bill, but my gut instinct is that there are several definitions of anti-hero out there, and while Shorty fits one or all, the over-all context and thrust of "They Drive By Night" are larger, more social ones.


    Maybe an anti-hero in part as Shorty is an ex-con but he reminds me again of Hitch's 'wrong man' protagonist - somebody in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  2. #22
    Senior Member Country: United States
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    I have read this Anti-Hero chronology with great interest. Thank you. I know the '70s were a time where this phrase "anti-hero" was bandied about but there were obviously many prime examples in earlier decades.

  3. #23
    Senior Member Country: England
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    name='jersey_lightning']Does anyone know what the original reviews of "They Drive By Night" were? It was made by the Warner Bros.' Teddington Studios and intriques me because it is similar to the typical films Warners was making in the US at the time. Warners even recycled the title a few years later. Just curious if anyone has any background on this....



    Regards,



    Kat


    THE

    Monthly Film Bulletin

    Published by

    The British Film Institute

    Volume 6, No.61, January 1939, page 2

    THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1939)

    Murder-mystery melodrama. Shorty Matthews comes out of prison and finds Alice, a girl he had once known, strangled. Terrified of the possibilities of circumstantial evidence, he bolts. A lorry driver gives him a lift north. On the road he meets Molly, a girl friend, and rescues her from a brutal lorry driver. The police catch up with him, but Shorty escapes from them, and doubles back to London. There Molly hides him in an empty house. To the dance hall where she works comes Mr. Hoover, a "student of psychology". He tells Molly that he believes Shorty is innocent, but follows her and discovers Shorty's whereabouts. Hoover insists on their both going back with him to his flat. There he attempts to strangle Molly, and the identity of Alice's murderer is discovered.

    This gripping and exciting thriller has been admirably produced and directed. Great care has been taken with the backgrounds, which are strikingly realistic. The strange night life on the trunk roads with the open all-night cafés (pronounced "caffs") is contrasted with the gay and flashy palais de danse. The cheap lodging-house is set over against Mr. Hoover's luxurious but eerie flat. The sinister opening - a group of people waiting outside a prison for the bell which tolls for the execution of a murderer - is repeated in the closing sequence, after a climax in the Grand Guignol tradition.

    The cast has obviously been most carefully chosen. Emlyn Williams has a part after his own heart, and plays it admirably. Ernest Thesiger is effectively sinister and creepy as the homicidal maniac who is definitely but not obviously insane, and gives a very clever performance. Anna Konstam is a promising newcomer. Helped by natural and racy dialogue the supporting players do almost equally well. The quality of the night-photography is excellent.

  4. #24
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Thanks for that Joe. One of my favourite atmospheric thrillers and one I often return to.

  5. #25
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    I wonder if the thread has been 'driven' by the recent BBC radio programme in which Mark Gatiss and presenter had to view the movie at the BFI because it 'wasn't available'.



  6. #26
    Senior Member Country: UK howardmitchell's Avatar
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    hi

    can anyone give me some info on this ellusive film ?

    the only one i can see is a 1940s film with humphrey go-cart !

    i belive the one im looking for is more gothic and atmospheric ?

    cannot find it anywhere

    cheers

    H

  7. #27
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    There was a feature on the film the other week on Radio 4's the Film Programme, where Mark Gatiss nominated it as part of his alternative history of British film. To do the feature Gatiss and the presenter had to view the film on a Steenbeck editing machine at the BFI, as aparently it has never had a release on VHS or DVD.



    Perhaps this increased profile might prompt someone into releasing it.

  8. #28
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    I've recently finished James Curtis" extremely hard 1938 novel and would now like to see the flick. Obviously it's got to be an extremely watered down adaptation, as it would seem impossible that a film true to Curtis' novel could have been made before the 1960's. Still I'm hoping for good period ambience and sympathies.

  9. #29
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    I've just watched this (courtesy of a kind Britmovie contributor) and have not read the thread. It's a good flick, but seems quite tame, dare I say sweet, once you've read James Curtis original novel. I think I shall have to watch it again, once the dust has settled. Nice to see William (credited Billy) Hartnell as a bus conductor and Bernard Miles as a plain clothes copper. Some great camerawork/lightong too.

  10. #30
    Junior Member Country: Wales jrj's Avatar
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    I Love Ernest Thesiger, what a character. I was lucky enough to get a copy of his autobiography 'practically true' for �3 in a second hand bookshop about 20 years ago,also his book on embroidery for a mere �1.00 ! and by a matter of a few pounds i missed out on buying a pair of his paintings on ebay a couple of years ago. i go to london about once a month and i often call into Brompton cemetery to lay some flowers on his grave. some of my favourite films are 'bride of frankenstein' 'the ghoul' and absolutely my all time favourite 'the old dark house' with 'they drive by night' following a close second. he was a genius.

  11. #31
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    I've got his book on embroidery. Didn't he find employment doing fancywork for dozens of WW1 veterans? It's ages since I read his autobiography - IIRC it has a marvellous opening paragraph, something like 'When I was 16 I resolved to meet The Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Master of the Rolls, the Prime Minister, Albert Chevalier, Sir Henry Irving and the doorman at the Garrick Club and I achieved all this by the time I was 21'

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