Reviewed byJ. SpurlinVote: 8/10/10
Joan Graham is the secretary for Stephen Witney, an honest anddedicated public defender, who succeeds in doing something he wouldalmost rather not do: get Joan's sweetheart, Eddie Taylor, out ofprison. Eddie is a good man, but Joan's sister, Bonnie, and Stephenboth agree that he is no good for Joan. Eddie was born trouble. Joanand Eddie get married and set out to prove the naysayers wrong. Eddiegets a good, steady job as a truck driver; but a series of disasterssends his life spiraling out of control and the fiercely loyal Joan'salong with it.
Fritz Lang directs this hard-hitting melodrama and, as always, fills itwith striking images. The shot of Eddie (Henry Fonda) in his cell, withthe shadows of the bars reaching out to meet the bored and uninterestedguard, stands out. The shots of a wide-eyed and desperate Fonda askingJoan (Sylvia Sidney) for a gun are a triumph for Lang, Fonda and Lang'scinematographer, Leon Shamroy. Lang also gets excellent work out of hiseditor, Daniel Mandell, who helps Lang to juxtapose images in asuggestive way, e.g. the shots of the frogs with shots of Joan andEddie.
Standing back from the film and looking at is as a whole makes itsomething of a marvel. We begin with light comedy, proceed to anadorable romance and then follow the characters as their lives - andthe film itself - grows steadily darker.
Reviewed byblanche-2Vote: 7/10/10
Fritz Lang did a great job with this well-acted, uniquely photographeddrama from the '30s. It's not anything to see if you're looking for alift, though. Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney, so young it'sunbelievable, play a husband and wife escaping the law. Sidney is asecretary who falls in love with a convict and marries him as soon ashe gets out of prison. He's a three-time felon and has a tough timegetting back into society. Ultimately, he's convicted of a crime hedidn't commit and sent to death row. He escapes with Sidney and theybecome sort of a Bonnie and Clyde on the run for the Canadian border.
There are some plot problems, for instance, how Fonda got the gun inorder to escape. Also, the boss at the trucking firm where he works isover the top in his dislike for Fonda and refuses to give him anotherchance.
The acting is very intense from both Sidney and Fonda. Looking at theyoung Fonda, one can really see where Jane got her looks. This isn't abig film, nor is it a happy one, but it's worth seeing.
Reviewed byferbs54Vote: 7/10/10
In Fritz Lang's second American movie, 1937's "You Only Live Once" (nottwice), Sylvia Sidney, aka "the Face of the Depression," plays whatmust be the loyalist girlfriend/wife in screen history. Her man,three-time loser Eddie Taylor (played by a pre-"Grapes" Henry Fonda),has just been released from prison, and wastes little time gettinghimself into all sorts of trouble again. But Sylvia is all forgiveness,and even takes it on the lam with him in her gravid condition, in oneof Hollywood's earliest instances of criminal lovers on the lam...agenre that would later produce such classics as "They Live By Night"(1949), "Gun Crazy" (1949), "Badlands" (1973) and, of course, 1967's"Bonnie and Clyde." Although "You Only Live Once" creaks a bit here andthere, I must say that this in one very involving film. Sidney andFonda make a marvelous team, and it is nice to see Barton MacLaneplaying a nice guy for a change, instead of his usual growling bully.Lang's roots in German expressionism are evident here, as shownparticularly in the design of Fonda's isolated prison cell, during afog-enshrouded prison break, and in that final, heavenly shot. The filmis a bit bleak and depressing, as decent characters fight futilelyagainst their fates, but the filmmakers leave little doubt whose sidethey're on. And, to its credit, the film shows very vividly howdangerous it can be to give in to the temptation to purchase a pack ofsmokes! Oh...this DVD is in fair condition at best, revealing a damagedprint source, and with zero extras to speak of. If ever a filmwarranted a restoration...
Joan is the secretary to the public defender in a large city. She is in love with a career criminal named Eddie, and she believes that he is a basically good person who just had some tough breaks. She uses her influence to get him released early, and he tries to go straight after marrying her, but things don't work out, and they both go on the lam.