“I like opening my eyes and seeing you.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Ray effectively portrays a hard-edged world in which the future happiness of a young criminal (Granger insists he was innocent when sent to jail as a teenager) is dependent on his collaboration with career-long crooks, who have no interest in giving up their life of crime, and ineluctably draw Granger back in time and again. O’Donnell, meanwhile, has been stuck living with criminals her entire life:
… and is naively desperate for a viable chance at romance and a “normal” life. Of course, everything about their courtship and marriage is tinged by the inevitable fatality of living life on the lam, so we mostly watch their travails with a sense of sadness and doom.
The film is atmospherically shot throughout, presenting a shadowy world of criminality and deception, but also moments of tentative intimacy. O’Donnell’s loyalty to Granger exists in parallel with that of Helen Craig’s Mattie, who will stop at nothing to secure the funds needed to free her own man, and plays a pivotal role in the film’s resolution.
Other supporting performances are strongly drawn as well — most notably Howard Da Silva as malicious yet insecure one-eyed Chickamaw:
… Ian Wolfe as a man used to marrying couples under all kinds of hurried circumstances:
… and Byron Foulger as an innkeeper eager to tutor his young son (Teddy Infuhr) in the ways of his craft.
Many have pointed out that this film bears similarities to Fritz Lang’s You Only Live Once (1937), and it is also often cited as the forerunner to Bonnie and Clyde (1967) — but Ray brings his own unique sensibility to the genre of “criminal couples on the run”; this one remains worth a look.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: