"THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT" (Raoul Walsh; 1940)
What starts off as a crime-labeled The Grapes of Wrath meets The Wages of Fear soon becomes enveloped in film noir trappings in this Depression-era potboiler starring George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan and Ida Lupino.
Following two brothers who risk their lives transporting loads of produce across the country for mere dollars, this journey feels like an episode of Farm Road Truckers. Once they settle down unintentionally after a bad accident, they meet a prosperous old friend and his scheming, vixenish wife (Lupino).
She's the definition of a femme fatale, but luckily for George Raft and Humphrey Bogart, this is more of a precursor to film noir, more content with optimism and a happy story. They Drive By Night is a bit aimless, but once Lupino's hellish tirades ensue, it noticeably and confidently kicks up a notch. [B]
"KITTY FOYLE" (Sam Wood; 1940)
Ginger Rogers won her only Oscar for this non-musical based on Christopher Morley's 1939 novel of the same name about a white-collar woman growing up in Philadelphia and moving to New York.
It's a classic "woman's picture" and social drama about Kitty, who grows up idolizing the high society main liners only to fall in love with one (Dennis Morgan) and struggle with the class differences involved in such a romance.
Rogers is wonderful in the title role, deserving of every accolade, but the film is a bit too amenable and sluggishly serious. [B-]