880 They Live by Night

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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swo17
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880 They Live by Night

#1 Post by swo17 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:54 pm

They Live by Night

Image Image

Legendary director Nicholas Ray began his career with this lyrical film noir, the first in a series of existential genre films overflowing with sympathy for America's outcasts and underdogs. When the wide-eyed fugitive Bowie (Farley Granger), having broken out of prison with some bank robbers, meets the innocent Keechie (Cathy O'Donnell), each recognizes something in the other that no one else ever has. The young lovers envision a new, decent life together, but as they flee the cops and contend with Bowie's fellow outlaws, who aren't about to let him go straight, they realize there's nowhere left to run. Ray brought an outsider's sensibility honed in the theater to this debut, using revolutionary camera techniques and naturalistic performances to craft a profoundly romantic crime drama that paved the way for decades of lovers-on-the-run thrillers to come.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary featuring film historian Eddie Muller and actor Farley Granger
• New video interview with film critic Imogen Sara Smith
• Short piece from 2007 with film critic Molly Haskell, filmmakers Christopher Coppola and Oliver Stone, and film noir specialists Alain Silver and James Ursini
• Illustrated audio interview excerpts from 1956 with producer John Houseman
• PLUS: A new essay by film scholar Bernard Eisenschitz

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#2 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:56 pm

This looks like a terrific overall package. Love that they carried over the Muller/Granger commentary.

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domino harvey
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#3 Post by domino harvey » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:13 pm

Another WB title they didn't add much to, only a video interview and illustrated audio excerpts

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swo17
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#4 Post by swo17 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:15 pm

But on the plus side, I can't even sell that one off, because there's an essential Mann film on the same disc.

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domino harvey
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#5 Post by domino harvey » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:19 pm

It's like when the Archives updated On Dangerous Ground-- I was happy, but I couldn't sell my DVD since it came in a slimpack in that noir set!

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swo17
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#6 Post by swo17 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:30 pm

Yep

Glowingwabbit
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#7 Post by Glowingwabbit » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:32 pm

I hope this opens the door for Gun Crazy and You Only Live Once (although not sure who has those rights).

mteller
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#8 Post by mteller » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:40 pm

I'm gonna need Side Street, Mystery Street, and Act of Violence on Blu before I can sell the Film Noir Classic Collection Volume 4 set. I can live without the others (although Crime Wave does have one of those amazing Tim Carey performances).

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swo17
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#9 Post by swo17 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:42 pm

I also like Tension a lot.

beamish13
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#10 Post by beamish13 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:58 pm

Very disappointing set. I hope Criterion does keep going back to the Nick Ray/WB well, though, as his Technicolor nightmare Party Girl and the recently restored The Lusty Men are no-brainers.

oh yeah
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#11 Post by oh yeah » Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:16 am

beamish13 wrote:Very disappointing set. I hope Criterion does keep going back to the Nick Ray/WB well, though, as his Technicolor nightmare Party Girl and the recently restored The Lusty Men are no-brainers.
Certainly agree with your second sentence, but I guess I'm not really disappointed here at all... I'm just happy that this masterpiece finally got rescued from basically only existing via a 2-movie disc thing (paired with an Anthony Mann flick, and the transfer was pretty alright, but still). I'm glad enough to just get (probably) a faithful and vivid HD transfer of the movie. I still have only seen this once actually, but it made a deep and lasting impression. I think it's right up there with (or slightly second to) Johnny Guitar, as far as Nick Ray goes. Those two and In a Lonely Place strike me as the most successful and powerful examples of his inimitable passionate, romantic, visually operatic style.

Though, incidentally, what's interesting is that They Live By Night and to a lesser extent In a Lonely Place actually don't have a terribly operatic visual schema compared to Ray's other work. Actually, both have a more soft, lyrical, almost impressionist look. I think Night in particular has a very French Impressionist kind of vibe, the B&W photography having a hazy glow and softer grey cast instead of a more expected harsh chiaroscuro, high-contrast noir aesthetic. I forget if the film is set in the 1930s, but the source novel is, and the film somehow feels more of that decade than its own (and certainly doesn't reflect many glimpses of the then-upcoming decade).

Anyway, this is all part of why I actually dispute the common "film noir" tag given to Night, as well as to Lonely (though it does fit the latter more). I presented a paper at my alma mater's Film & Television research symposium on just this specific subject last year -- the way that virtually all of Ray's films (that he had decent creative control over, that is) are really essentially melodramas, whether more male-focused melodramas or romantic melodramas. So I'd argue that even the supposed "noir" flicks of his like these two are not really noir, that they only rather loosely fit that description. I mean, it's kind of semantics, and I don't care if someone labels them noir, I just personally disagree. Actually, IALP is much more noir-ish (with its harsher kind of fatalism and noir-ish LA/Hollywood settings like the baroque apartment complex), so I can understand that more... but TLBN is just so much gentler and more romance-focused and less high-contrast/shadowy/urban-set, etc than most noir. I guess, due to its class consciousness/critique of "normal" capitalist society, it's often classified as a "film gris," which I can agree with.

But generally what's so great about Ray is his passion and romanticism and optimism, even. (IALP is an odd duck among his work for having such a dark ending -- most have rather happy endings basically, and I contend that only a couple of those are that way just as result of Code/studio tinkering). And so his films take on the tenor of pure melodrama most of the time, and melodrama dominates whatever other genre they're ostensibly said to be. E.g. Johnny Guitar is more like a baroque, operatic and Romantic full-on melodrama with Western setting/tropes than simply a Western. And of course films like Bigger Than Life and Rebel Without a Cause put these melodramatic impulses on center stage as melodrama itself is accepted as their genre instead of noir or Western or war or crime-film, etc.

It's impressive just how many great films, most flat-out masterpieces really, Ray actually made. All of his movies from 1949's They Live By Night to Party Girl almost a decade later in 1958 may not fit that description, but I'd wager that at least six or seven surely do. Night is so high up on my personal favorites (and in some ways edges out even Johnny) I think partly 'cause it's both very representative of Ray's general style and approach, while also having an even more tender and passionate and very intimate quality than the others. To end with an Armond-esque "underdog vs. sacred cow" cliche here -- I'd go to bat for Ray's film as the best directorial debut of the 40s any day over Welles's more famous picture, and indeed it's possible TLBN is my favorite directorial debut by any filmmaker (coincidentally, Malick's Badlands, one of the obvious thematic descendants of Ray's debut -- of which there are many! -- gives it some stiff competition).

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Never Cursed
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#12 Post by Never Cursed » Tue May 09, 2017 3:39 pm


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FrauBlucher
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#13 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Jun 05, 2017 5:54 am


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FrauBlucher
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#14 Post by FrauBlucher » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:35 pm

DVDSavant... Erickson has a some interesting insight on Ray and the film.

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Graham
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#15 Post by Graham » Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:02 am

This is currently $15.75 on Amazon.

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FakeBonanza
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#16 Post by FakeBonanza » Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:54 am

Graham wrote:This is currently $15.75 on Amazon.
For Prime members.

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Graham
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#17 Post by Graham » Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:04 am

Sign up for a free trial.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 880 They Live by Night

#18 Post by FrauBlucher » Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:54 am

Hey Mr Wrigley, what was your contribution? I see you got a thank you at the back end of the new supplements.

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