Film Noir ♥ Transgressions Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
Sigmund Freud

“Ladies and gentlemen- welcome to violence; the word and the act. While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains sex.” — Narrator from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965).

Faster Pussycat
Tura Satana, Haji, and Lori Williams in Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 1965
Françoise Dorléac and Donald Pleasence in Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-sac 1966.
the Naked kiss
Constance Towers kicks the crap out of her pimp for shaving off her hair in Sam Fuller’s provocative The Naked Kiss 1964.
Shock Corridor
Peter Breck plays a journalist hungry for a story and gets more than a jolt of reality when he goes undercover in a Mental Institution in Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor 1963.
CapturFiles_3 copy
Bobby Darin is a psychotic racist in Hubert Cornfield and Stanley Kramer’s explosive Pressure Point 1962 starring Sidney Poitier and Peter Falk.

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Constance Towers as Kelly from The Naked Kiss (1964): “I saw a broken down piece of machinery. Nothing but the buck, the bed and the bottle for the rest of my life. That’s what I saw.”

Griff (Anthony Eisley) The Naked Kiss (1964): “Your body is your only passport!”

Catherine Deneuve as Carole Ledoux in Repulsion (1965): “I must get this crack mended.”

Monty Clift Dr. Cukrowicz Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) : “Nature is not made in the image of man’s compassion.”

Patricia Morán as Rita Ugalde: The Exterminating Angel 1962:“I believe the common people, the lower class people, are less sensitive to pain. Haven’t you ever seen a wounded bull? Not a trace of pain.”

Ann Baxter as Teresina Vidaverri Walk on the Wild Side 1962“When People are Kind to each other why do they have to find a dirty word for it.”

The Naked Venus 1959“I repeat she is a gold digger! Europe’s full of them, they’re tramps… they’ll do anything to get a man. They even pose in the NUDE!!!!”

Darren McGavin as Louie–The Man With the Golden Arm (1955): “The monkey is never dead, Dealer. The monkey never dies. When you kick him off, he just hides in a corner, waiting his turn.”

Baby Boy Franky Buono-Blast of Silence (1961) “The targets names is Troiano, you know the type, second string syndicate boss with too much ambition and a mustache to hide the facts he’s got lips like a woman… the kind of face you hate!”

Lorna (1964)- “Thy form is fair to look upon, but thy heart is filled with carcasses and dead man’s bones.”

Peter Fonda as Stephen Evshevsky in Lilith (1964): “How wonderful I feel when I’m happy. Do you think that insanity could be so simple a thing as unhappiness?”

Glen or Glenda (1953)“Give this man satin undies, a dress, a sweater and a skirt, or even a lounging outfit and he’s the happiest individual in the world.”

Glen or Glenda
Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda 1953

Johnny Cash as Johnny Cabot in Five Minutes to Live (1961):“I like a messy bed.”

Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton) Island of Lost Souls: “Do you know what it means to feel like God?”

The Curious Dr. Humpp (1969): “Sex dominates the world! And now, I dominate sex!”

The Snake Pit (1948): Jacqueline deWit as Celia Sommerville “And we’re so crowded already. I just don’t know where it’s all gonna end!” Olivia de Havilland as Virginia Stuart Cunningham “I’ll tell you where it’s gonna end, Miss Somerville… When there are more sick ones than well ones, the sick ones will lock the well ones up.”

Delphine Seyrig as Countess Bathory in Daughters of Darkness (1971)“Aren’t those crimes horrifying. And yet -so fascinating!”

Julien Gulomar as Bishop Daisy to the Barber (Michel Serrault) King of Hearts (1966)“I was so young. I already knew that to love the world you have to get away from it.”

The Killing of Sister George (1968) -Suzanna York as Alice ‘CHILDIE’: “Not all women are raving bloody lesbians, you know” Beryl Reid as George: “That is a misfortune I am perfectly well aware of!”

The Killing of Sister George
Susannah York (right) with Beryl Reid in The Killing of Sister George Susannah York and Beryl Reid in Robert Aldrich’s The Killing of Sister George 1960.

The Lickerish Quartet (1970)“You can’t get blood out of an illusion.”

THE SWEET SOUND OF DEATH (1965)Dominique-“I’m attracted” Pablo-” To Bullfights?” Dominique-” No, I meant to death. I’ve always thought it… The state of perfection for all men.”

Peter O’Toole as Sir Charles Ferguson Brotherly Love (1970): “Remember the nice things. Reared in exile by a card-cheating, scandal ruined daddy. A mummy who gave us gin for milk. Ours was such a beautifully disgusting childhood.”

Maximillian Schell as Stanislaus Pilgrin in Return From The Ashes 1965: “If there is no God, no devil, no heaven, no hell, and no immortality, then anything is permissible.”

Euripides 425 B.C.“Whom God wishes to destroy… he first makes mad.”

Davis & Crawford What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford bring to life two of the most outrageously memorable characters in Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962.


psychotronic |ˌsīkəˈtränik| adjective denoting or relating to a genre of movies, typically with a science fiction, horror, or fantasy theme, that were made on a low budget or poorly received by critics. [the 1980s: coined in this sense by Michael Weldon, who edited a weekly New York guide to the best and worst films on local television.] Source: Wikipedia

In the scope of these transitioning often radical films, where once, men and women aspired for the moon and the stars and the whole ball of wax. in the newer scheme of things they aspired for you know… “kicks” Yes that word comes up in every film from the 50s and 60s… I’d like to have a buck for every time a character opines that collective craving… from juvenile delinquent to smarmy jet setter!



I just got myself this collection of goodies from Something Weird!

There’s even this dvd that points to the connection between the two genres – Here it’s labeled WEIRD. I like transgressive… They all sort of have a whiff of noir.
Grayson Hall Satan in High Heels
Grayson Hall -Satan in High Heels 1962.
Gerd Oswald adapts Fredrick Brown’s titillating novel — bringing to the screen the gorgeous Anita Ekberg, Phillip Carey, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Harry Townes in the sensational, obscure, and psycho-sexual thriller Screaming Mimi 1958.
The Strangler 1964 Victor Buono
Victor Buono is a deranged mama’s boy in Burt Topper’s fabulous The Strangler 1964.
Catherine Deneuve is extraordinary as the unhinged nymph in Roman Polanski’s psycho-sexual tale of growing madness in Repulsion 1965.

Just like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, Noir took a journey through an even darker lens… Out of the shadows of 40s Noir cinema, European New Wave, fringe directors, and Hollywood auteurs brought more violent, sexual, transgressive, and socially transformative narratives into the cold light of day with a creeping sense of verité. While Film Noir pushed the boundaries of taboo subject matter and familiar Hollywood archetypes it wasn’t until later that we are able to visualize the advancement of transgressive topics.

Continue reading “Film Noir ♥ Transgressions Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground”

Re-Ocurring Iconography-The Cinematic Mirror

A Streetcar Named Desire
Vivien Leigh as Blanch Dubois in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire 1951
IsobelaCorona is Sara the witch-the witches mirror
Isobela Corona is Sara the witch-The Witches Mirror 1962
Repulsion- Catherine
Catherine Deneuve as the demented Carol in Roman Polanski’s Repulsion 1965
Bette Davis in Deception
Bette Davis as Christine Radcliffe in Irving Rapper’s Deception 1946
Robert Cummings in The Chase
Robert Cummings is Chuck Scott in Arthur Ripley’s The Chase 1946
Citizen Kane-1941-Orson Welles
Corridor of Mirrors 2
Terence Young’s Corridor of Mirrors 1948 Edana Romney as Mifanwy Conway
Dead Ringer
Paul Henreid’s Dead Ringer 1964 starring Bette Davis & Bette Davis as twin sisters Margaret DeLorca / Edith Phillips
Jack Bernhard’s film noir classic Decoy 1946 Herbert Rudley as Dr. Craig
fritz lang's M
Fritz Lang’s M (1931) starring Peter Lorre
Ida On Dangerous Ground
Ida Lupino is blind Mary Malden in Nicholas Ray’s On Dangerous Ground 1951
Jane Wyman Stage Fright
Jane Wyman is Eve Gill in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Stage Fright 1950
Jean Simmons and Dan O'Herlihey Home After Dark
Jean Simmons is Charlotte Bronn and Dan O’Herlihy as Arnold Bronn in Mervyn LeRoy’s psychological melodrama Home Before Dark 1958
jean-marais-Orpeus '50
Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (Orphée)1950 starring Jean Marais
Kiss Before The Mirror '33 James Whale
The Kiss Before the Mirror 1933 directed by James Whale Gloria Stuart and Paul Lukas
Lady in the Lake
Robert Montgomery is Phillip Marlowe in Lady in the Lake 1947
Marilyn Don't Bother to Knock-mirror
Marilyn Monroe is the disturbed babysitter Nell Forbes in Roy Ward Baker’s Don’t Bother to Knock 1952
Psycho-Janet Leigh Marion Crane
Janet Leigh plays the ill fated Marion Crane in Hitchcock’s classic horror Psycho 1960
Renoir's The Rules of the Game 39
Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game 1939
She Wolf of London
June Lockhart is Phyllis Allenby in Jean Yarbrough’s She-Wolf of London 1946
sin in the suburbs
Joe Sarno’s Sin in the Suburbs 1946
Somewhere in the night Hodiak
Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Somewhere in the Night 1946 starring John Hodiak as George Taylor and Nancy Guild (rhymes with Wild) as Christy Smith
Sunset Blvd
Gloria Swanson is the sensational Norma Desmond and William Holden is Joe Gillis in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd. 1950
The Big Steal
Robert Mitchum is Lt. Duke Halliday and William Bendix as Capt. Vincent Blake in Don Siegel’s The Big Steal 1949
The Dark Mirror
Olivia de Havilland & Olivia de Havilland star as Terry and Ruth Collins in Robert Siodmak’s The Dark Mirror 1946
The Lady from Shanghai
Rita Hayworth is Elsa Bannister in Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai 1947
The Queen of Spades mirror

Yvonne Mitchell is Lizaveta Ivanova in Thorold Dickinson’s The Queen of Spades 1949
Thomas Mitchell in The Dark Mirror
Thomas Mitchell is Lt Stevenson in Robert Siodmak’s The Dark Mirror 1946
what ever happened to baby jane
Bette Davis is the outrageous Baby Jane Hudson in Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962

Here’s looking back at ya!-Your ever lovin’ monstergirl

Hyper-Masculinity/Hidden Frailty: The Robert Ryan Aesthetic in Film Noir

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Robert Ryan’s death July 11, 1973 with a special nod to Karen & The Dark Pages for their spectacular tribute to this incredibly real man!

robert ryan

“Ryan was unfailingly powerful, investing his tormented characters with a brooding intensity that suggests coiled depth. Cut off from the world by the strength of their ‘feelings’ his characters seem to be in the grip of torrential inner forces. They are true loners. Ryan’s work has none of the masked, stylized aura of much noir acting. He performs with emotional fullness that creates substantial, complex characters rather than icons.”Foster Hirsch-FILM NOIR: The Darker Side of the Screen

Clearly Robert Ryan’s infinite presence in film and his numerous complex characters manifest an embracing universal ‘internal conflict’ of masculinity. I tribute certain roles the actor inhabited during his striking career. Though he was cast more often in the part as the imposing heavy, the depth and breadth of Ryan’s skill with his rough-hewn good looks should have landed him more roles as a lead male capable of such penetrating levels of emotion. He had a depth that suggests a scarcely hidden intensity smoldering at the surface.

Robert Ryan as Montgomery in Edward Dmytryk’s Crossfire 1947.
Act of Violence Ryan
Robert Ryan in Act of Violence ’48

A critic for the New York Times reviewing  Act of Violence (1948)  wrote about Robert Ryan’s persona as the madly driven veteran bent on revenge, Joe Parkson calling him “infernally taut.”

Frank Krutnik discusses ‘Masculinity and its discontents’ in his book In A Lonely Street, “In order to make the representation of masculinity in the noir thriller, there follows a schematic run-through of Freudian work on the determination of masculine identity.” Claiming Freud’s work can be co-opted into film with an emphasis of its relevance to analysis of the cultural machinery of patriarchy.” He discusses patriarchal culture which relies heavily on the maintenance of a gender-structured ‘disequilibrium’ with its roots in the myth of the Oedipal Complex. Involving not only the power-based hierarchy of male service to masculine power but the established normative gender values which inform both the male and female figure.

act of violence ryan and leigh
Act of Violence Robert Ryan as Joe Parkson co-starring Janet Leigh

Many of the characters in Ryan’s noir world are informed by a cultural ‘determinacy of the phallus’ that authorizes toughness and strips the limits of desire as an obligation to masculine identity. The patriarchal power structure predetermines a fixed and limited role that creates a destiny of submission and impotence in Ryan’s characters. But within the framework of these extreme male figures lies an intricate conflict of varying degrees of vulnerability and fragility.

Ryan manifests this duality within hyper-masculine characters. Outwardly physical, confrontational, and hostile, Ryan is a master at playing with men who suffer from alienation and inferiority surrounding their own ‘maleness’ and self-worth. He was never just a dark noir brute or anti-hero but a complex man actualized through layers of powerful dramatic interpretation. His performances suggest a friction of subjugated masculinity bubbling within.

Ryan and Stanwyck in Clash By Nightjpg
Ryan as Earl Pfeiffer and Barbara Stanwyck in Fritz Lang’s Clash By Night.

The trajectory of the male through the Oedipus Complex encompasses male subjectivity which is a principal issue in the noir ‘tough-thriller.’ The ‘existential thematic’ link to the Oedipus myth concerns questions of male desire and identity as they relate to the overarching law of existing patriarchal culture substituted for the original fearsome ‘divinity.’ This element is one of the driving psychological themes underlying any good classic film noir.

In this post, I put my focus primarily on Ryan’s characters within the framework of each film and while I discuss the relationship between him and the central players I do not go as in-depth as I usually do discussing his co-stars or plot design.

I apply this thematic representation to many of the roles engendered in the films of Robert Ryans‘ that I’ve chosen to discuss here. A patriarchal power structure establishes the tragedy of man’s destiny, a fixed and limited role in the character’s own destiny as there is a predominant power that threatens them into submission and sheds light on their own impotence. So many of the noir characters in a Robert Ryan noir world are shaped by a cultural authority structured through ‘determinacy of the phallus’ that authorizes toughness in the male identity that strips away the limits of desire, as an obligation to ‘masculine identity.’

Ryan’s stoic boxer Stoker in Robert Wise’s The Set Up.

I’m focusing on particular Ryan’s roles within a noir context that depict archetypal hyper-masculine tropes and the problematic strife within those characters. Whether Ryan is playing the deeply flawed hero or the tormented noir misfit, his characters are afflicted with an inherent duality of virility and vulnerability, inner turmoil, alienation, persecution, and masochism. It’s a territorial burden that Robert Ryan so effortlessly explores.

These films show Ryan’s trajectory through forces of menacing restraint and poignant self-expression. Within a noir landscape, the schism of stark virility and tenuous masculinity exposes the complexity of alienation, masochism, and frailty. Robert Ryan’s performances are a uniquely fierce and formidable power.

I’m discussing: The Woman On the Beach (1947) haunted & emasculated coastguardsman Lt. Scott Burnett, Caught (1949) neurotic millionaire Smith Ohlrig, The Set-Up (1949) noble over-the-hill boxer Bill ‘Stoker’ Thompson, Born To Be Bad (1950) misanthropic & masochistic novelist Nick Bradley, Clash by Night (1952) cynical misogynist projectionist Earl Pfeiffer, Beware, My Lovely (1952) morose psychotic vagrant handyman Howard Wilton, On Dangerous Ground (1952) unstable, alienated violent cop Jim Wilson, Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) racist persecuted ex-con Earle Slater.

Within the framework of these ‘extreme’ male figures lies an intricate conflict with varying degrees of vulnerability & fragility within the male psyche. The narratives don’t necessarily flesh out this conflict plainly, but Ryan’s performances certainly suggest and inform us about the friction of this subjugated theme bubbling to the surface as he manifests the duality within his hyper-masculine characters. Robert Ryan was a master at playing men who suffer from alienation and inferiority surrounding their own ‘maleness’ and self-worth.

Robert Ryan

Ryan is never just a dark noir ‘brute’ or anti-hero but moreover, a complex male who is actualized through layers of powerful dramatic interpretation. A complexity of stark virility and ‘tenuous maleness’ as the narrative witnesses Ryan’s trajectory transforming him through various dynamic forces of menacing restraint and poignant self-expression. Outwardly physical, confrontational, hostile, and ultimately masculine, and the schism that is inwardly emotional, alienated, self-deprecating, masochistic, and fragile within the film noir landscape. Robert Ryan’s performances still maintain a uniquely fierce and formidable aesthetic of the ‘suffering-marginalized man.’

Continue reading “Hyper-Masculinity/Hidden Frailty: The Robert Ryan Aesthetic in Film Noir”

They Live By Night (1948) Part Two “A woman is sort of like a dog”

They Live By Night (1948) Part One “This boy and girl were never properly introduced to the world”

It’s the first 10 minutes of They Live By Night that sets the stage for our ill-fated lovers. When Keechie comes out to the barn to get water, Bowie follows her, rattles some chains to make noise, and then he slumps down against the wall. When the headlights of a car startle him, he begins to whisper a little ritualistic number-counting verse to himself, a way to calm himself. Perhaps something he picked up in jail. Bowie is 23 years old and spent 7 years of it on the prison farm where he met Chickamaw and T-Dub.

He tells Keechie that he doesn’t really know how to talk to a woman. The old man Mobley shows up in a car with a woman. It’s Mattie, wife of T-Dubs brother still in jail trying to get paroled. Mobley is soused and nearly crashes the car, but smashes some crates and tires and damages the front tire. Mattie gets out complaining about the drive there, and the drunken fool who picked her up. “That’s the best you can send?”

They go into the cabin and leave Bowie and Keechie still in the barn. Keechie asks Bowie if he likes his old man. He says “Not much.” Then Bowie asks if it’s true that her Ma ran off, and she answers yes. He tells her his ma ran off with a guy who ran a pool hall. His Pa used to take him there. He relates to her a story of how one night, there was an argument, but there is usually an argument centered around a game of pool. This time his Pa raised his cue but the other guy had a gun. His Pa turned to him like he was trying to say something, his face went white like he was going to cry. “The blood running into his eyes” Then Ma went to live with the guy who killed him.

Here the backstory lays the groundwork for the couple, who never had a chance to live a normal life, with decent parents who could raise them with a moral code.

She asks why Bowie would run with men like T-Dub and Chickamaw, her uncle “lives for trouble” and is “wild” Bowie keeps a newspaper clipping in his pocket about a guy convicted of murder just like him, who had no due process of the law. The Supreme Court said, “Let that man out!” Bowie fantasizes about running away to Mexico. Dreams are all he has.

This is what Bowie is living for, the day he can afford the Lawyer in Tulsa, who can overturn his conviction and he can get himself “squared around” a significant phrase that will come back at the end of the film. The idea is that these young people are fueled by the desire to belong to the right side of society. Bowie and Keechie start to develop an obvious attraction to each other.

Mattie takes an instant dislike to Bowie and tells Keechie that he’s Jail Bait.

Chickamaw and T-Dub want to pull a big job in Zelton Texas, rob a bank. Bowie agrees to be the driver of the getaway car.

The day before the robbery, we see a large street clock, Bowie looks at it, always asking what time it is. He’s sitting in the car, we hear a train whistle blow. Then Bowie cases the bank. He purchases a beautiful woman’s watch for Keechie at the Zelton Jewelry Store. He doesn’t have smaller bills with him so the jewelry store owner will have to take him over to the bank to break the large bills.

T-Dub and Bowie return to the house where Mattie and Chickamaw are. T-Dub asks Mattie what’s going on. It appears there might be a sexual relationship between the pair. Chickamaw says “How long does a woman wait for one man?” Mattie gets upset “Listen you crumby one-eyed nut” T-Dub goes to slap Mattie but Chickamaw grabs him, and Mattie smashes a mirror. Bowie is spooked and says “That’s 7 years!” is there an emphasis on his superstition because he is uneducated and from a lower class?


On the day of the bank robbery, the same train whistle blows, the clock is standing in the same spot outside the bank, and Bowie is in the car waiting for the two men to give the signal, when the jeweler recognized Bowie and tried to strike up a conversation with him. When Bowie keeps telling him to “get away” and he doesn’t stop talking, Bowie pushed the man to the ground and he hits his head.

All 3 men are in the getaway car now, fleeing the robbery, back on the wide expanses of open land. Blue Grass music is playing on the radio. They pull off the road. Chickamaw pulls out a gas can and sets the robbery car ablaze. The radio starts to die out as the car is consumed by the flames until it sounds like a dying doo hickey.

They drop T-Dub off and Chickamaw says, they can start struttin’ and the one thing Bowie has to learn “is to look and act like other people.” Again we see the emphasis on trying to fit into normal society. They buy fancy clothes and new cars. On the way back to the house, an old jalopy cuts off Bowie and they crash the car. A police officer comes over to question them about how fast they were going and requests that they come along with him, and Chickamaw calls him “friend” and then shoots him.

Chickamaw takes Bowie, who’s sprained his back in the crash, to his brother’s place so Keechie can take care of him. Old man Mobley starts complaining about having to close the station, but Chickamaw says not to worry and shoves a wad of cash in Keechies blouse pocket. Her uncle Chickamaw has a very unhealthy boundary around his niece. He leers at her a good deal of the time and objectifies her, by calling her the girl instead of his niece. When Keechie hands the money over to her father, the old man says, “Girl that’s more money I’ve seen since we collected on that fire we had.” He takes the money, and we know that he’ll blow all of it on booze later on.

Bowie is laying face down on the bed. Keechie takes her hair down and starts brushing it. The first sign that she is embracing her sexuality, her womanhood, amidst this band of dirty thugs, her father included. Bowie awakens and is framed on screen behind a wrought iron bed, that looks like the bars of a jail. Noir characters are often trapped by framing.

Bowie asks Keechie “Who’s your fella…other girls have ’em?” she says “I don’t know what other girls have.” She rubs his back down with something, and the wind in the telephone wires from out the highway, makes an eerie noise outside. Bowie asks if she ever thinks about leaving town, most girls would want to go, again she says “I don’t know what most girls want.” Keechie has been so sheltered from the world. He tells her that he has lots of money now from the robbery, but this offends Keechie. He doesn’t mean to offend her, but she replies, “I’d do this for a dog.” Then he tells her to look in the side pocket of his shirt. She takes out the package and finds the watch he bought for her. She mentions that there is no clock in the cabin, though she wants to set the watch to the right time. Perhaps people who live outside of society have no sense of belonging so need to track the hours of the day. That’s the sense I got from all the references to time and why it was so important for Bowie and Keechie to know what time it was.

He puts the watch on her. She says she never saw any sense in having a fella, then asks him if he’s trying to say that he should be her fella. He says “I guess maybe it is.” This is a very sweet moment for the two of them. She tells him to stay until morning, by then her drunken father will have shot off his mouth all over town, so he’ll need to get away. She’ll go with him.

They leave on a bus. A baby crying incessantly, on a seat next to Bowie, but the mother could care less about quieting the child. They stop for coffee and notice a flashing neon sign Marriages Performed. The waitress pours more coffee and interjects, Hawkins class B, organ music, and everything for $20. She says the way people pop in and out of there you’d think they’re getting dog licenses. At that point, Bowie tries to tell Keechie that he’s no good for her. He’ll always be a black sheep. and she tells him “The only thing black about you is your eyelashes.” She saw the goodness in him from the beginning. After complaining about how awful that wedding place is, he asks her to marry him and they get off the bus, and enter Hawkins, to be married. The old man running the quicky ceremony says to Bowie “You don’t think much about the way I marry people” “I sure don’t” “Me neither but you gotta give people what they want.” Then he sells them a car and heads off for their honeymoon, at Lamberts Inn where they take a room all the way at the end, from Mr Vines and his little son Alvin. They set up a house there. And life seems quiet and “normal” like other people.

In the meantime, old man Mobley goes to the police and tells them about Bowie, kidnapping his daughter. Tells them where they can find him. “That boy belongs in the electric chair, and I’d like to be the one to pull the switch!”

Bowie asks Keechie about “these women who don’t wait for their men” and she gives him her philosophy. “Those women don’t love…woman only loves once. I guess a woman is sort of like a dog, a bad dog would take things from anybody, and he’ll bite anybody who tries to pet him. There was a man back up home, and after he died, his dog wouldn’t eat or do anything, and he died too.”

Chickamaw shows up “Aint you shacked up nice and cozy,” He asks for alcohol, but since there wasn’t any, he asks for candy and starts munching on it. Tells Bowie the newspapers are “plastered with his face.” Every time some dingbat robs a filling station, they say it’s “Bowie the Kid”, the Zelton bandit. “You’d have to have wings to be every place they say you did.”

Chickamaw and T-Dub are out of money and now want to pull another job. ” kid we got a bank in Cedars, just itching to be charged” Bowie offers half his loot from the Zelton robbery but Chickamaw strongarms him into coming along. “you know that’s friendly, real friendly…you aint gonna be handing me out no two bits at a time for ice cream cones, that doe you got where’d you get it?! working the shoe store, it takes 3 to pull a trick and you’re number 3, even if the papers say you’re number one.” T-Dub tells him later on that they took him out of jail over other men. Keechie is furious with Bowie for going along.

After the bank job, Chickamaw is gets righteously riled. T-Dub got killed during the bank robbery. Chickamaw tells Bowie that it “rips his guts out” All the papers do is talk about Bowie the Kid. He wants Bowie to stop for a drink, but Bowie refuses, Chickamaw grabs a pipe from the back seat and tries to hit him with it. Bowie orders him to get out of the car.

Bowie returns home that night to Keechie. “I guess you heard over the radio” “I heard T-Dub’s dead, Chickamaw was killed breaking into a liquor store…they say it runs in threes.”

She tells him she’s going to have a baby, no matter what. Bowie says “That’s right, he’ll have to take his chances just like us.”

They go out for the day and walk around the park like other “real people”, Bowie talks about going to Mexico again. they go out for supper and dancing.

A drunk stumbles into Keechie, so they decide to leave, but Keechie asks Bowie to get her some cigarettes. While in the bathroom getting the pack of cigarettes from the machine, a man crouches behind him and says “Bowie the kid” pulls the gun away from Bowie “Papers say you carry a .45” Bowie comes back “Papers say a lot of things.” The man tells him “We want you to leave town tonight, we don’t want any trigger-happy hillbillies around.”

There are no safe places for Bowie and Keechie to belong. They’re too innocent for the thugs like Chickamaw and T-Dub, yet they’re perceived as hicks by a whole other hierarchy of criminals. They Live By Night really is a story about human suffering and class disparity.

When the couple realizes that the plumber who came to fix the busted pipes in their place has recognized Bowie, they flee their little home and head out for the Prairie Plaza Hotel, a piece of property that Bowie remembers Mattie owns. Mattie is not happy to see Bowie, even though she finds out that Keechie’s ill and pregnant, unknown to the young couple, she turns them in to the police in exchange for her husband finally getting paroled.

Bowie goes back to the man who married them, asking about getting help to flee to Mexico, but the old man tells him that he’s a thief just like Bowie, but he won’t sell him “hope” when there ain’t any. Bowie realizes that there just isn’t a place in the world for “people like us.”

Note: the use of the metaphor of dogs is used a lot in the film– as obedience, faithfulness, and submissiveness. loyalty.

I won’t spoil the climax of They Live By Night, it is a poetic masterpiece of director Nicholas Ray