You Only Live Once (1937)
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 Clyde, the Gene Towne-Graham Baker screenplay stacks the deck against its protagonists to such an extent that the audience is virtually forced to hate their various antagonists. As superb as Henry Fonda is in portraying the foredoomed hero, Sylvia Sidney is even better as his wife; her reading of such lines as "We just call him...baby" are enough to shrivel the heart even after six decades. … More
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Critic Reviews for You Only Live Once
Fritz Lang's second American film... remains one of his all-time greatest.
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.
It stands as a clear precursor for such revered love-on-the-run films as Bonnie and Clyde, Badlands and They Live By Night, but is perhaps better than any of them.
A top social drama, inspired by the real Bonnie and Clyde. Lang is in prime directing form.
Audience Reviews for You Only Live Once
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 frameMore
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.More
Sad tale of a luckless man and the woman who stands by him no matter what. Of course the acting is very fine and the direction good but the hopelessness of the film makes it more something to appreciate then actually enjoy.More
[font=Century Gothic]In "You Only Live Once," things are finally looking up for three-time convict Eddie Taylor(Henry Fonda) upon his release from prison. Joan Graham(Sylvia Sidney) is in love with him and they plan on marrying once he is on the outside, even though her boss, public defender Stephen Whitney(Barton MacLane) has his doubts. But things do not start out that great. They are evicted from their honeymoon hotel once Eddie is recognized and he is fired from his job as a truck driver after being late on one run. Desperate to make the down payment on a house, Eddie meets up with his old gang...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Directed by Fritz Lang, "You Only Live Once" is a hardly subtle but riveting melodrama that that has aged very well in the decades since it was made. Serving also as a pointed examination of the criminal justice system and the death penalty, the movie has a special emphasis on the concept of reform and how hard it is for a former criminal to go straight. [/font]
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