You Only Live Once (1937)

You Only Live Once


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Movie Info

Archetypal depression-era stars Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney are felicitously teamed in Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once. Fonda plays an ex-convict who can't get a break on the "outside". He marries Sidney, who like her husband is one of life's losers. Framed on a murder rap, Fonda is forced to take it on the lam, with his wife and baby in tow. In trying to avoid capture, Fonda becomes a murderer for real, condemning himself and Sidney to an early demise. Partly based on the legend of Bonnie and … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Graham Baker, Gene Towne, C. Graham Baker
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 24, 2003



as Eddie Taylor

as Joan "Jo" Graham

as Stephen Whitney

as Father Dolan

as Bonnie Graham

as Muggsy

as Dr. Hill

as Warden

as District Attorney

as Guard

as Messenger

as Stenographer

as Policeman

as Kozderonas

as Gas Station Attendan...
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for You Only Live Once

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Fritz Lang's second American film... remains one of his all-time greatest.

Full Review… | March 26, 2007
Combustible Celluloid

It always seems to be night and raining for its alienated main characters, who have only their love for each other to keep out the cold from the world.

Full Review… | November 9, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for You Only Live Once

This film features a similar storyline to the Pre-Code Hollywood classic "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang," without the drama of it being a true story. This film also adds a fresh faced romantic interest, who powers much of the story and serves as the protagonist's main motivation. The narrative follows the story of former convict Eddie Taylor (Ford) who is finally going straight, as he marries his sweetheart Joan (Sidney) and tries to get a job. Though he tries to do good he's framed for theft and murder, and the rest of the film features him trying to clear his name and get back to his wife. The main moral of the story is not to discount those who are trying to get their lives back together, and the more important lesson is that when you believe someone will commit a crime, eventually they will have to, to be free. This is a narrative that could use more attention in our modern times, when recidivism is at an all-time high, and police brutality is in the national spotlight. While the film overall plies itself with melodrama all too often, it's a classic example of the way Fritz Lang made his films, utilizing the emotions of his audience while also showing a story steeped in violence. This isn't his absolute best film, but it is one of the more memorable, and one that I would recommend wholeheartedly.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

quite good early lang and henry fonda and sylvia sidney have lovely chemistry together. it's an early 'lovers on the run' story, similar to ray's 'they live by night'. i don't really see how this isn't considered film noir except that it's just outside the time frame

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


This movie reminded me of better movies from the 40s. It's an alright story and all, but I couldn't get into it, the dialogue was less than average, and so was the acting. Overall, not a great movie, but not horrible, it does have a realistic story.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

You Only Live Once Quotes

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– Submitted by Katie J (3 years ago)

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