They Drive by Night (1940)

“If we go over a cliff, wake me up.” Who could imagine that a movie about the trucking business would be this much fun? George Raft and Humphrey Bogart portray brothers Joe and Paul Fabrini, who are wildcat truck drivers struggling to keep their business afloat in this immensely entertaining film noir directed by Raoul Walsh (White Heat). Spoiler alert: One of the brothers loses an arm in a truck accident and the other is framed for murder. They Drive By Night was based on a 1938 novel, The Long Haul, by A. I. Bezzerides (who scripted Kiss Me Deadly, 1955). This wonderfully cast film also features Ida Lupino as the always-scheming Lana Carlsen, one of the most memorable psycho bitches in film history; Alan Hale (father of “The Skipper” on Gilligan’s Island) as her husband, Ed, a drunken buffoon who owns a trucking business; Ann Sheridan as down-and-out waitress Cassie Hartley; and Roscoe Karns as “Irish” McGurn, a boozing, pinball junkie who provides some comic relief. Interestingly, it was Raft who received top billing over Bogart in this film but Raft turned down the lead role of “Roy Earle” in Walsh’s next film, High Sierra (also starring Lupino), which helped propel Bogart to superstardom. Walsh portrayed John Wilkes Booth in D. W. Griffith’s silent film classic The Birth of a Nation (1915). According to “Anonymous,” a loyal reader, “You mention Alan Hale as being the father of the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island. There’s another connection. Ida Lupino directed a few Gilligan’s Island episodes”

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