You Only Live Once - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

You Only Live Once Reviews

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June 21, 2016
Bonnie and Clyde, Gun Grazy predecessor dated, though, both in directing and acting.
½ September 12, 2015
Considered the first "outlaw couple on the run" movie, You Only Live Once is a little more on-the-nose than Bonnie and Clyde or Badlands but nevertheless very effective.
May 11, 2015
A classic of the film noir genre, the second one of Fritz Lang in USA. I read that the original version was cut in 15 minutes by reason of what was called "unprecedented violence".
Super Reviewer
January 17, 2015
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.
November 6, 2014
When fate initiated its final blows at the end I was beside myself with complete and utter despair as it was one of the saddest endings I've seen in a long long time!
½ November 4, 2014
Near-perfect, though I'm biased. Fonda is a gem. Lang had a YOLO t-shirt before it was cool.
August 20, 2013
Excellent movie. Fonda is brilliant as is Sydney, and Lang's direction is spot on with loads of his wonderful visual signatures on display.
April 29, 2013
gr8 chemistry between the leads well crafted drama
Super Reviewer
March 25, 2013
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
February 3, 2013
Such a great film, you can tell it was directed by a German expressionist. It's subdued but still present. Definitely a very good film noir.
½ January 3, 2013
ouch sorry i just not that in to "romeo & Juliet" thing, it's selfish what about the baby?!
½ October 28, 2012
A depressing, ambitious picture directed by Fritz Lang shows how quickly can a life spiral out of control, with utterly grievous consequences. A small-time crook named Eddie is out of prison and marries his long-time love. Unable to find work he is constantly miserable and thinks that he left his wife down. On one day, a bank robbery takes place and Eddie is the prime suspect. Sentenced to death, he realizes that there is no other way of escaping his fate than resolving to violence. In the most climatic moment of the film a parole grant arrives at the prison warden's office. However - given the circumstances and his attempt to run away - mentally unstable Eddie doesn't believe the story. He kills the prison chaplain and becomes the real killer-on-the-loose. Along with his beautiful and loving wife and their newborn baby, he decides to run away out of the country and find peace somewhere far away.
You Only Live Once is a visually-striking depiction of one man's attempt at rescuing his own well-being from the disastrous effects of a faulty trail. Henry Fonda gives an incredibly convincing performance as the worn-out, antipathetic protagonist. Sylvia Sidney aspires to be a true Golden-Era star through her touching portrayal of an optimistic yet worried wife.
With its sombre atmosphere and bitter feel of irrepressible hopelessness You Only Live Once marks Fritz Lang's rise to fame during his American period.
May 16, 2012
The deck is stacked against Henry Fonda as an ex-con trying to go straight and coming up against stigma and reduced opportunities at every turn. Fortunately, he's got Sylvia Sidney to love and support him. However, things take a turn for the worse when he's accused of a bank robbery in which six innocent people died. Suddenly Fritz Lang takes us from an ordinary social problem picture (of sorts) onto death row and then into Bonnie & Clyde territory. His expressionistic skiils serve him well and there are some amazing chiaroscuro shots, foreshadowing the film noir movement to come (in style and theme).
November 17, 2011
Following "Fury", Fritz Lang continues his American odyssey into early Film Noir with this tale of doomed lovers on the run, partially inspired by Bonnie and Clyde, with sympathetic bank robber Henry Fonda dragging down sweet innocent Sylvia Sidney when a prison break goes horribly wrong and a priest gets shot.

Fonda, in one of his first starring roles (though Sylvia is top billed), is dynamic playing, in all essence, the good-bad guy, a tough stiff who just can't catch a break in the world, and when he finally does, it's mitigated by ironic circumstances (shrouded in Lang's expressionistic use of fog) leading to murder, and no way out.

Like in "Fury", there's a notion of impending doom and chaos, that no matter which way the characters turn, be it trying to go straight, trying to beat a frame up, or live long enough on the lamb to see your baby born, nothing will work, and I'm sure in 1936, having declined Hitler's invitation to run the German film industry and all it's propaganda efforts, fleeing to France, then America, Lang sympathized with the displaced and unjustly accused, and there's just enough of his home country expressionism to quell the treacly romance with necessary dread.

Lang's American output is problematic, and even this early effort, produced independently by Walter Wanger, was cut down by 20 minutes because of what was thought to be unnecessary violence, but what remains is an occasionally brilliant, occasionally clunky hard luck melodrama, evincing themes of justice, persecution, and the perception of good and bad key to the director's entire canon.
½ November 12, 2010
Very soppy and disappointing Fritz Lang film that has only a couple of visually interesting moments. The master of silent suspense and tension building seems all too often miss the mark after the advent of sound in films. A rather pointless film too, as you never know for sure if Fonda's character IS truly innocent and therefore you don't really know whether to feel pity for him. Had you found he was innocent, then the ending is harsh and disappointing and were he innocent then he deserved what he got, by why drag her down as well. There is a possibility that in this dull nonsense of a movie I fell asleep and missed something, but if not, this is a rather pointless film and a let down on all accounts.
Super Reviewer
½ October 2, 2010
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.
September 8, 2010
Even the unwavering support of a good woman can't keep three-time loser from straying to crime. Prison depicted as a nice place; with friends, checkers and ball games. This Fritz Lang film seems dated now with simplistic characters.
May 23, 2010
Criminal meets good girl, falls in love and marries her. He turns over a new leaf but meets great resistance from those who think a leopard never changes its spots and catastrophe ensues. The film was implausible (to say the least) in places, but I found it exciting and happily watched it to the (predictable) end.
½ February 5, 2010
Had a bad feeling about this as soon as the movie started with a lame ethnic stereotype ("he take-a my apples!"). Lang's American movies are no where near the quality of his early work, but they're usually pretty decent. This one is pretty disappointing, though. While there are several impressive shots, a lot of the cinematography is flat and lifeless. The timing often feels all wrong and the story (an ex-con who can't catch a break) is one I've seen a hundred times before. Lang sets up a series of plot contrivances in order to keep his hero (who is not much of a hero) in trouble, some of them as ludicrous as anything in Dancer in the Dark. It's all just really ham-fisted. Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney make the best of what they've got, though. I'd probably give this a lower score if it wasn't for some occasional nice photography. They Live By Night is a better telling of a similar tale.
½ October 30, 2009
Fritz Lang's amazing direction, the casting of Henry Fonda as an escaped convict and Sylvia Sidney as his wife make this film a real winner. Fonda does an amazing job. Sydney gives a very poignant performance. Well photraphed, excellent pace, moving and touching.
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