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Plot:

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.

Also Known As: Sólo se vive una vez, 't Recht om te leven, Ankokugai no dankon, Günahsiz Katiller, You Only Live Once, Tylko raz zyjemy, Vive-se uma Só Vez, Man lever bara en gång, Du lever kun én gang, Uitstel van executie, Le droit de vivre, Έχω δικαίωμα να ζήσω, Живем один раз Soviet, Za cene zycia, Sono innocente, Karkuri, Rymlingen, Gehetzt, Csak egyszer élünk, Só Vivemos Uma Vez, J'ai le droit de vivre, Three Time Loser, Només es viu una vegada

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  • ian-da-mota
    ian da mota

    A bit over rated, this one, I think. It certainly takes a while to get going, is a bit sentimental and has plenty of plot holes. However, this is an early noir and being of lasting influence was certainly one of Mr Lang’s traits.Some of the shots are as stunning as they are surprising and things are not overly explained, it’s just that some stretches seem a little flat. Whilst I can see much of the early scenes are to make the later consequences more poignant but seventy years on these can appear ponderous.Take nothing away for the last twenty minutes or so, though, plus the superb and heavily ironic prison yard scene.

  • gustav-bergman
    gustav bergman

    Not a movie to see if you’re feeling depressed. Arguably, this is the darkest entry in the doomed lovers genre, and also one of the most affecting. Three-time loser Eddie (Fonda) and his pregnant wife (Sidney) are on the run after killing a priest, and after Eddie has tried his best to go straight in the face of a hostile, uncaring society. As the fog closes in, the tender couple tries to make their way to the border and freedom. What they get instead is freedom of a different kind.Anyone doubting that cinema is basically a medium of manipulation needs to examine this grim masterpiece of early noir. From an irresistibly tearful Sidney to an unyielding fate to a relentlessly bleak photography, we’re caught up in Lang’s carefully crafted artistic vision. The parts fit together inexorably, driving the lovers and us toward an inevitable conclusion. The only visual missing is an onrushing train. In my book, the movie’s one of the purest examples of how visual artistry can overcome plot contrivance, for there are an unfortunate number of the latter.Too bad the sad-faced Sidney is largely forgotten. It’s really her marvelously expressive range that registers the tragedy and moves the audience. Far from glamorous, her talent remains nonetheless unusually poignant. All in all, the movie’s in the same league as the transcendent They Live By Night (1947), and stands as possibly the polar opposite of the giddy Bonnie And Clyde (1967). In my little book, it’s Lang’s most compelling American film, despite the relative obscurity.

  • kudriavtsev-dmitrii-zhanovich
    kudriavtsev dmitrii zhanovich

    This film is a bit heavy handed with social criticism; it seems as if the central message goes from being a warning to young people to stay away from the life of crime, to a critique of how harsh the system and many people in society can be to convicts who got some “bad breaks.” It is a bit over the top when Eddie explains to his new wife how he got sent to reform school for beating up a kid who was torturing frogs. He gets punished for doing the good deed of fighting for the defenseless creatures, something that would get the sympathy of any audience, and establishes him as a “good guy.” The authorities and straight society (including his sister-in-law) are all portrayed as a grim, loveless sort, but not quite as villains. The message here seems to be a critique of the conservative approach to dealing with criminals. The highest critique of the police is when the police put him in the gun-sight of a high powered rifle to shoot him in the back as he is trying to carry his dying wife to freedom across the boarder. Society is also critiqued as gas station attendants who are robbed of only gasoline then decide to rob the till and report the loss cash as being from the robbers (they are so nice they only rob what they need). But the film is balanced enough so that it is not just a critique of the heartless conservative society. It also shows how bad real criminals are in the prison, and the other message is that once you go down that road, you are in a sense “making your own bad luck” in the future (“that’s what they all say” when Eddie proclaims his innocence). Once you make those kinds of friends and acquaintances, you are setting yourself up for other problems (like being used as a patsy and getting framed for a crime you didn’t commit) and not being able to find employment, other embarrassing situations, like being kicked out of a hotel on your honeymoon, when the proprietor recognizes you from a crime magazine. Even though some of the situations and portrayals are way over the top by today’s standards, this film is still worth viewing! I wouldn’t say that it is an entirely accurate reflection of exactly “how things used to be,” but you can extrapolate a lot about 1930s society by seeing what they were presenting as realistic fiction of that era.

  • noel-du-leblanc
    noel du leblanc

    Consider; the lead is a male criminal, or ex con. His fiancé/wife is naive enough to believe he “can change”/”has changed”, honest religious figure, a jail break plot, misunderstandings and misperceptions of the human condition, presumption of guilt/innocence weighed on pre-cinematic thinking scale.All those factors add up to a film that would not be a winner at today’s box office. Even though it has every element of today’s social stupidity, only reinforced with alleged scientific understanding of the human mind, the film would get shelved as an unhealthy downer for the domestic market. If someone tried to make it, they would have to get rid of or rework the scenes with the clergy. Rework the prison scenes, and just about everything else to make it more appealing and couple friendly to garner the date film market.A married couple on the outs with John Law? A normal married couple that tried to do all the right things, but still found themselves on the receiving end of stupidity? Say it ain’t so! And yet I can see that response being tossed in the face of numerous would be directors who pitched this script. Reason; no one wants to see a downer of a film. That’s what we have documentaries for.I think of this film, and think of my own life and how other people’s stupidity has come to effect my own, and how I tried to address it through proper channels, and how nothing but unmitigated disaster followed. One gives serious consideration if the gates will open. But then one reminds oneself that this is what high priced mercenaries (i.e. lawyers) are for. So a kind of settled brow comes and eases onto a man’s demeanor.But it doesn’t detract from the fact that today we have miscarriages of justice based on the most moronic of thought processes conceived by the human mind. And Fonda’s character suffers for it.It’s not a film for the feint of heart, and it will lead you down one road, only to take you on another. It’s that kind of a film. Hope abounds. And that’s perhaps the one thing the couple has left, for mankind and all their concepts of justice and medicine cannot help them.See it once.

  • jenny-king
    jenny king

    Sylvia Sidney is the secretary to a public defender (or “offender” as one client refers to him as) who is in love with a convicted felon just about to be released from prison. Henry Fonda is that man, determined to make a new start, but unable to do so because of the judgments of society. Sidney and Fonda are married, but once they settle into a new apartment, are tossed out when the owners find out about Fonda’s past. He quickly looses his job, being verbally assaulted by his boss for his past, and in desperation, tries to keep his wife from finding out. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time has him made out to be the top suspect in a bank robbery, and he ends up on death row. By this time, it is too late, and Fonda has turned into the animal that society already believed him to be, hatching an escape plan that can’t lead to anything but doom.Poetly brilliant, this has a moving scene between Sidney and Fonda where he comments on how a male and female frog will die almost immediately after the other one because they can’t bear to be without the other. Fritz Lang followed up “Fury” with this equally magnetic drama on the wrongs that can happen to a man trying to get past his past, and how evil judgment and unforgivingness can be. Barton MacLane has a rare sympathetic role as Sidney’s boss, obviously in love with her, while William Gargan is the prison pastor who tries to help the couple deal with their fates. Look quickly for Margaret Hamilton as the landlady of the apartment building where Fonda and Sidney live, not even overnight, as well as a ton of wonderful character performers. This is one of those films that will stick with you long after its over, in both its comment on society and its spirituality, felt in a finale where the lovers strive to find peace on earth, but obviously won’t. As their lives become more like Bonnie and Clyde, you can see why the desperation’s of the 1930’s have continued to be felt today.

  • shot-a-nadiraze
    shot a nadiraze

    “You Only Live Once” has many fine cast members, a fast-paced story, and some striking cinematography, but the social moralizing is heavy-handed (not to mention the visual Christian symbolism, e.g., a big beam of light shining down on a mother and baby in a wooden, stable-like structure). The film takes on the admirable task of exploring the troubles an ex-con faces when he re-enters society. However, some of the plot points are just aggravating, rather than powerfully tragic. Also, some of the people who mistreat the ex-con are portrayed in an exaggerated manner, which doesn’t add to the gravity of the film. (The film also suffers from a few plot holes.) Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney are very believable as a devoted couple, and their plight is touching. But I was really wondering about the backstory of Fonda’s character: he seemed like the type that would have turned to crime because of his righteous expectations about what the world owes him. However, we never find out much about his life before the picture starts. Honorable mention to the performances of two frogs, in a romantic-walk-by-the-pond sequence.I saw this on video, so it’s available somewhere, though maybe not readily.

  • mati-leis
    mati leis

    A Fritz Lang film starring Sylvia Sidney and Henry Fonda sounds like it can’t miss. But it does. People react so absurdly that the story is just not believable. A trucker fires Fonda without any rational reason. Fonda is convicted of heinous murders only because a hat with his initials is at the scene of the crime. (No wonder Lang doesn’t show the trial on screen.) A miraculous gun followed by any even more miraculous pardon. And then the epitome of inexplicable actions: Fonda callously murders the only person besides Sylvia Sidney that he loves and trusts! Please! This is just a bad movie. Maybe in 1937, in the midst of the Great Depression, it was accepted. But today, it’s a joke despite its director and stars.

  • dr-eric-miller
    dr eric miller

    You Only Live Once is Director Fritz Lang’s second American film after leaving Nazi Germany. The first one Fury was a tale of mindless mob violence against an innocent man caught in circumstances not of his own making.This one however has a career criminal trying to go straight, but with no one willing to give him a break. Arrested for a bank robbery that he didn’t commit and the resulting deaths from same, Henry Fonda is on death row awaiting execution. His girlfriend, Sylvia Sydney helps him escape and in the escape, prison chaplain William Gargan is killed by Fonda. Gargan was one of the few friends he had and now Fonda and Sydney are fugitives.To be sure there are some plot holes. For one thing I’d like to know just what Fonda had done before that made him a three time loser in the first place before the action of the story takes place. Nevertheless it’s a good piece of film making and the stars register real poignancy in their performances.This barely got made. Henry Fonda hated the dictatorial Fritz Lang during the making of this, almost walked out several times. Later on they had equally bad relations during the shooting of The Return of Frank James.The real life exploits of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker influenced the writing of the screenplay. Of course the Barrow/Parker duo were hardly the innocents that Fonda and Sydney are. But then again this was the heyday of social liberalism during the New Deal when it was believed all of life’s ills could be cured with the right government social program.Barton MacLane as Fonda’s attorney delivers one of his few performances as a good guy. During the Thirties and Forties MacLane played tough and ruthless gangsters and police officials, some of the latter quite corrupt. I’m so used to seeing MacLane as a bad guy this was something of a revelation to me. It’s a dated story, but full of poignant tragedy and worthy of a look.

  • clara-alcalde-ocana
    clara alcalde ocana

    One of my very favourite films and further proof, if needed, that Fritz Lang did not leave his best work behind in Germany when he fled the Nazis for Hollywood in the early 30’s. I could eulogise all day about the cinematography, but that would do a disservice to a strong narrative which seems to give a mild contemporary nod to the recently slain Bonnie and Clyde and some terrific acting especially by the two leads. There are so many shots to savour, I’ll name just a few which caused me an admiring intake of breath;- for example the scene early in the film with a reflected image of the at that point still optimistic newly-weds sitting by the frog-pond, the expressionist use of shadows seemingly radiating out from Fonda’s cell as he paces it in frustration and what may have been the first cinematic use of the three possible “Hold the front page” headlines in the press depending on the outcome of Fonda’s trial plus of course the rightly famous eerie smoky set-piece where Fonda panics and shoots his friend the prison priest. Even simple framing shots (one of Sydney to camera looking into the runaway couple’s car from Fonda’s viewpoint, for example) are delivered with style and finesse, there’s no question there’s mastery at work here. The acting by Sydney and Fonda is great, passionate, completely in character and utterly convincing in conveying the depth of their relationship, crucial considering the incredible demands Fonda’s character makes of the law-abiding Sydney. Who got the Oscars in their stead this year, I wonder? The bitter-sweet ending (the couple find release only in death) is absolutely right as is so much of this bravura Fritz Lang feature. Students of film noir can learn much from this dark and compelling work, all delivered in 86 engrossing minutes.

  • uschi-schinke
    uschi schinke

    You Only Live Once (1937)Ah, to see such a simple, moving, constantly changing drama with a criminal undertone (or overtone) is a treat. This isn’t quite from the Warner Brother heyday in the early 1930s, where the form was established and made dark and really fast. But this is pre-film noir, strictly speaking, forming a bridge between the two worlds. In fact, like Stagecoach two years later, this is a daring William Wanger production, going out on a limb, and using brilliant German director Fritz Lang for an essentially American drama.The innocent man fighting for his life, the loving woman who will do anything to help, the evil or doubtfully trustworthy authorities of every kind, the kindly defense lawyer, and the priest, all are archetypes used before but mixed together with brilliance. If there is a clunky moment or two, there is just one or two, and the whole thing is mostly bracing and quite beautiful. It’s also a fairy tale, of sorts, the kind of moral fable where you sort of know the ending but don’t mind because it’s point is so beautiful.Henry Fonda is here presaging his famous “breakout” roles in “Jezebel,” “Young Mr. Lincoln,” and “Grapes of Wrath,” and his love-interest, Sylvia Sidney, is known for a role she had just finished in “Sabotage.” Both are spot on perfect. And as their involvement goes through some surprises, it turns into a kind of “They Live by Night,” which you should also see. The whole idea of two people in love against the world, which doesn’t understand them, is as poignant and lasting as it gets, and Lang, whatever his usual dark sentiments, lets this part of it shine through, too.

  • johannes-ruuskanen
    johannes ruuskanen

    This is quite a well known film with Henry Fonda playing three time loser Eddie Taylor. Much of the plot is improbable, indeed the prison bust-out is Fantasy Island stuff because even in the 1930s security for a man under sentence of death in the United States was an order of magnitude stronger than depicted here, but this is a film that was clearly produced as a social document as much as for entertainment. Eddie Taylor is a most unappealing character, one whom even an actor of Fonda’s stature cannot inject with empathy, added to which if he’d had so much as a shred of decency he would never have dragged down his girl with him, would probably not have married her in the first place. Nevertheless, the question remains, how does society deal with even the repentant habitual criminal? Seventy and more years on, little if anything has been done to address that problem, certainly in America with its enormous prison population and the continued destruction of unskilled jobs which reduce almost to nothing the prospects of the underclass – criminal or otherwise – of making an honest living.

  • sig-nayade-barone
    sig nayade barone

    Joan Graham (Sylvia Sidney) is the efficient secretary of a public defender Stephen Whitney (Barton MacLane) and is in love of the smalltime criminal Eddie Taylor (Henry Fonda). Her boss and friend Stephen helps Eddie to leave the prison on probation, Eddie promises to have a straight life and immediately get married with Joan. He finds a job as truck driver, but is unfairly fired on his first day. While trying to find another job, there is a heist in a bank with six victims and Eddie is accused. Joan convinces him to go to the court and prove his innocence, but based on circumstantial evidence and prejudice of the jury, Eddie is sentenced to the electric chair. On the night of his execution, the FBI finds the real criminal and Eddie grants an indulgence. However, Eddie is trying to escape from prison in a hostage situation, and kills his friend Father Dolan (William Gargan), who was trying to help him. Eddie meets Joan and together they try to reach the border and escape from justice.”You Only Live Once” is the second American movie of Fritz Lang and a tragic melodrama. The depressive story of love and prejudice discloses a tough criticism to a very unfair, corrupt and hostile society, where losers do not have the chance to recover their dignity and common people are corrupt. The screenplay is visibly influenced by Bonnie and Clyde, who died on 23 May 1934, ambushed in their getaway car – therefore less than three years before the release date of this film. Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney show a great chemistry in good performances in this minor movie of this great director. My vote is seven.Title (Brazil): “Vive-se Uma Só Vez” (“You Only Live Once”)

  • lala-melik-barkhowdaryan
    lala melik barkhowdaryan

    “They made me a murderer,” Eddie Taylor tells his wife after he’s escaped from Death Row. He’s been falsely convicted of a bank job involving tear gas and 6 dead guards, then, on the eve of his execution while making an escape attempt, he’s miraculously pardoned. But, since he’s been lied to all along, he doesn’t believe them and seals his fate with an irrevocable act of violence. The innocent become the guilty, not because of the crime, but because of the accusation.Guilt is not so much the issue here as blame. Eddie wants to go straight. Sure, he’s had a few bad run-ins, but he’s been rehabilitated through the unswerving love of his girl, Joan. But his past keeps being thrown in his face, unsettling his pride. When he puts a down payment on a house but loses his job before he can pay for it, Eddie gives in to his bitterness. It’s a quick skip to the false arrest for the crime he didn’t commit, and an even more fated one to the lam of the fugitive’s road. For the last reel, Eddie and Joan become the quintessential Desperado Couple before they fall to a predictable end. It’s all a tidy, little diatribe about good, honest people being ruined by a corrupt, heartless society.But wait.Eddie’s originally in the slammer because of crimes he DID commit.Eddie DOES dally on his job and his boss takes action.Eddie DOES execute a brutal, cold-blooded crime.The truth is that Eddie’s a skunk and he lets other skunks spray at him until he stinks back, that’s all. Lang’s strength is that he doesn’t make judgements according to political, ethical, or racial belief systems. Humanity is at fault, not Nazis, Negroes, or Rockefellers. If anything, the inevitability of civilization is the culprit in “You Only Live Once”. There’s an inordinate amount of time spent in the oppressive architecture of prisons, jail cells, and courtrooms. And machinery always seems driverless, like the railroad car (read cattle car) that Joan finds a wounded Eddie hiding in, or the parked, and later submerged, armored car that so conveniently spews the filthy lucre leading to Eddie’s dismantling. It’s raining a lot when the kids are feverishly trying to escape or pull off a dirty deed, and subsequently sunshiny and open when they’re resting or cuddling. The child’s born in a shack–a structure abandoned by the current society. If there is a Rousseau-like, Naturalistic bent to the narrative, it doesn’t extend to the people. For instance, the gas station attendants who are robbed don’t befriend Joan and Eddie, but take advantage of their plight to line their own pockets. There’s not even a smidgen of Depression, folk-hero classicism in the script. This isn’t “Bonnie & Clyde”, after all.In Lang’s world, people are greedy, petty, jealous, and self-serving. And they’ve created a civilization that reflects those values. Jo and Eddie’s relationship is the only worthwhile thing outside the “stain of the world”. Love is the only hope we’ve got. Father Dolan’s no help. He’d rather go out as a martyr, babbling on about death being “another chance at remembering who we are before we’re born again.” And, although the syrupy, resurrected voice of the priest coos “open the gates” from his rarefied perch above the film’s final scene, it is the shot through the gun’s cross-hairs on Eddie’s vulnerable and defenseless back that is really the definitive image–and the one we’ll remember and take to our own, respective graves.

  • zalitis-lauris
    zalitis lauris

    In Fritz Lang’s second American movie, 1937’s “You Only Live Once” (not twice), Sylvia Sidney, aka “the Face of the Depression,” plays what must 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 getting himself 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 one of Hollywood’s earliest instances of criminal lovers on the lam…a genre 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 and there, I must say that this in one very involving film. Sidney and Fonda make a marvelous team, and it is nice to see Barton MacLane playing a nice guy for a change, instead of his usual growling bully. Lang’s roots in German expressionism are evident here, as shown particularly in the design of Fonda’s isolated prison cell, during a fog-enshrouded prison break, and in that final, heavenly shot. The film is a bit bleak and depressing, as decent characters fight futilely against their fates, but the filmmakers leave little doubt whose side they’re on. And, to its credit, the film shows very vividly how dangerous it can be to give in to the temptation to purchase a pack of smokes! Oh…this DVD is in fair condition at best, revealing a damaged print source, and with zero extras to speak of. If ever a film warranted a restoration…

  • helge-solberg
    helge solberg

    During the Depression, a young couple goes on the lam after the man is accused of a crime. This gritty drama is an early example of film noir, expertly directed by Lang, the great Expressionist filmmaker, although he sometimes goes overboard with the symbolism. Lang explored similar themes in Fury (with Sidney in a similar role to this), made a year earlier, but this one is better, not marred by the melodrama and overacting of the earlier film. Fonda and Sidney are excellent as the unfortunate couple, helped by a fine supporting cast. Memorable scenes include the escape from prison, tinged with irony, and the finale, as the couple makes a run for the border.

  • aishvryaa-laal
    aishvryaa laal

    This is one of the lesser known Fritz Lang flicks, and is a good representative of its era : it basically is about how blood-thirsty society misjudges and mistreats some of its members, “making them murderers” (my favorite one of that kind must be a little later “The Talk of the Town” with Cary Grant).You can see why Lang is regarded as one of the masters of German Expresionism – some shots are really weird (check the shot of the courthouse somewhere in the beginning of the movie) and he uses strange camera angles, which will later be repeated in many film-noirs.Unfortunately the film suffers from several plot holes. It is not really clear how the gun ends up on Taylor’s hospital bed, etc. But I can recommend the movie despite its shortcomings. If you’re a Fritz Lang fan you musn’t miss it. If you’re a film-noir fan, you shouldn’t miss it because of some of his elements that will be found is such masterpieces as “The Scarlet Street” or “The Big Heat”. If you’re a movie fan in general you are strongly advised to see it, and you will not waste the 85 minutes of your life.

  • varga-hajnalka
    varga hajnalka

    This film is the perfect definition of a masterpiece. A good story (not so different from others of the same period) perfectly developed by Lang, restless, intense, beautifully played by the characters, with a memorable end.I will always remember the image of Henry Fonda (outstanding as ever!) blaming of his fate to Sylvia Sydney just by looking at her and framed by the little window of the visiting room of the prison; it reminded me to the speechless films of Lang where all the dialogues were replaced by the looking of the characters. No words and so much being told: pure art.

  • ada-burzawa
    ada burzawa

    In this doomed love story of an ex-con (Henry Fonda) trapped in a world that won’t forgive or forget and the woman (Sylvia Sidney) unconditionally bound to him, Lang sees the criminal potential in everyone, from the neighborhood cop who swipes apples from an immigrant fruit-seller, to the station attendants who exploit the couple’s gunpoint gasoline theft for a payday of their own, to the guards who leer over Henry Fonda’s supine form as it awaits escort to the chair. The whole world is on trial, and found guilty. Heroes and villains are splintered into categories of those who are punished for their crimes unto mortal eternity, and those who persist in petty, under-the-table wrongdoings within society’s aegis. In the former category are the protagonists: Eddie, just notified of his exoneration from bogus murder charges, kills the kindly priest in a moment of disbelieving panic; Jo leaves her baby behind to prolong the adventure of a fugitive romance. Prior to these events, Eddie endeavors to go straight and set up a homestead, but his attempts to reform are blocked at every turn by exploiters and busybodies who forbid his dream of a quiet, quotidian existence. His life is reduced to the confines of a spare room, existence an unending rebuke. Lang empathizes with Eddie and Jo not because of their purity—anathema to Lang’s worldview—but because of their faith in one another, which transcends the human birthrights of petty malfeasance and self-interest.The film’s structure is dauntingly clear yet purposeful, provocatively reenacting one crucial decision in order to illustrate the immutability of Eddie’s fate. Following a rain-soaked bank robbery—one of several violent, weather-determined setpieces; here, Lang rhymes a wipe edit with the getaway car’s flattening of a cop—all evidence points to Eddie’s involvement in the crime, which resulted in six casualties. Innocent but determined to flee the fourth-strike rule and certain death, Eddie equivocates just long enough to be apprehended. His jailbreak on the eve of execution is punctuated by his first murder, necessitating his going on the lam—an initially voluntary choice recast as mandatory destiny. Innocence leads to a death sentence; guilt leads to literal death. A miracle is offered, but it arrives when he’s distracted, at his most hopeless. And death becomes all, as an outcome of running and not running—living is the farthest idea from mind.But it’s living, Lang finally expresses, even at its most miserably futile, that affords grace. Jo resurrects Eddie from his boxcar tomb with exhortations to live for as far as roads will take them, perhaps all the way to border freedom. Those back roads open up to country vistas, Eddie’s predominant mode of physical confinement recedes, and life is simplified to necessities of the moment. This serene spartan outlook radiates through the film’s last scenes, as Eddie and Jo suffer their last trial, as Eddie gazes off inscrutably from a hilltop, still trying to elude his pursuers. Piercing through this tragedy is the return of the once-unnoticed miracle: Eddie’s moment of grace revealed as deliverance from humanity’s mudded reflection into spotless rebirth. At once a relieved affirmation of the film’s title—i.e., the Langian notion that in death we will all one day blissfully escape mankind’s stark judgments—and stunning evidence of a heretofore unseen Christian sensibility, Eddie’s contented exodus from a damned life gives the priest the last word: death is renewal.

  • jean-eriksen
    jean eriksen

    Fritz Lang did a great job with this well-acted, uniquely photographed drama from the ’30s. It’s not anything to see if you’re looking for a lift, though. Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney, so young it’s unbelievable, play a husband and wife escaping the law. Sidney is a secretary who falls in love with a convict and marries him as soon as he gets out of prison. He’s a three-time felon and has a tough time getting back into society. Ultimately, he’s convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to death row. He escapes with Sidney and they become 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 in order to escape. Also, the boss at the trucking firm where he works is over the top in his dislike for Fonda and refuses to give him another chance.The acting is very intense from both Sidney and Fonda. Looking at the young Fonda, one can really see where Jane got her looks. This isn’t a big film, nor is it a happy one, but it’s worth seeing.

  • speranta-dima
    speranta dima

    You Only Live Once is directed by Fritz Lang and written by C. Graham Baker and Gene Towne. It stars Sylvia Sidney, Henry Fonda, Barton MacLane, Jean Dixon and William Gargan. Music is by Alfred Newman and cinematography by Leon Shamroy. He has been pounding on the door of that execution chamber since the day he was born. One of Fritz Lang’s first American productions is a cracker-jack proto- noir, a leading light (darkly shaded of course) in the sub-genre of fugitive lovers on the lam pictures. Story leans on the legend of Bonnie and Clyde and finds Fonda as three times jailbird Eddie Taylor. After strings are pulled and promises made, Eddie gets released into the arms of his adoring gal, Jo Graham (Sidney). Determined to go straight and settle down with Jo, Eddie finds a society not ready to forgive and forget, worst still, he’s old comrades in criminal arms have cooked something up and it’s not going to be good news for Eddie. Cue the Romeo & Juliet factor as two lovers love each other so much they will stop at nothing to be together and to try and make the other one happy. Lang brings his expressionistic bent to the tragi noir tale, drifting fogs, mists and spider web shadows across key scenes. Canted angles feature, reflections in a psychological eye also play their part, while the protection of animals theme – and the continuing frog motif – further strengthens the otherworldly – cum – nightmarish aura that so often permeated Lang’s movies. The action scenes are deftly marshalled by the director, with a smoke grenade led robbery and a prison escape particularly worthy of luring you to the end of your seat. Lang also gets fine performances from his lead actors, Sidney is not done too many favours by the screenplay, where she is saddled with one of those compliant love interest roles, but she brings a quality to her scenes with Fonda that earns respect. Fonda is great in what is a two- fold role, shifting skilfully between a tender lover to an embittered man, he’s a triumphant fulcrum for all the various strands that Lang is weaving together. It has been argued that it’s a film that’s too morally grey, but as film noir lovers will tell you, this is no bad thing, especially when Lang marries up his superb visuals with alienation, fatalism and pessimism. Historically important to film noir and Lang fans, You Only Live Once is an ambiguous gem. 9/10

  • aronas-poska
    aronas poska

    Director Fritz Lang helms this well mounted drama of a struggling couple. Henry Fonda is a petty crook attempting to reform when he is framed on a murder charge. He eventually breaks out of prison and tries to escape to Canada with his wife (Sylvia Sidney) only fate seems to be against them. A nice blend of drama and romance with Fonda and Sidney most impressive in the starring roles. The fine supporting cast includes William Gargan, Barton MacLane, Margaret Hamilton, and Ward Bond. Unfortunately this gem of 1937 is not available on video and is seldom shown on TV anymore.

  • amvrosii-vishniak
    amvrosii vishniak

    This film stands the test of time as the story of a man trying to become someone else and a woman’s loss of faith in justice. Lang’s comment on the difficulty of the romantic couple may stem from his former wife’s transition to a Nazi, but the strong relationship between Eddie and Joan is both beautiful and disturbing. This film is meticulously shot, with perfect casting (who knew Henry Fonda was ever young?). It’s always enjoyable to watch the old Hollywood movies with no blood, and very strange looking kisses…. Superb example of a Lang film and film noir. Worth watching on DVD for a quality restoration.

  • kiki-timmermans
    kiki timmermans

    Joan Graham is the secretary for Stephen Witney, an honest and dedicated public defender, who succeeds in doing something he would almost rather not do: get Joan’s sweetheart, Eddie Taylor, out of prison. Eddie is a good man, but Joan’s sister, Bonnie, and Stephen both agree that he is no good for Joan. Eddie was born trouble. Joan and Eddie get married and set out to prove the naysayers wrong. Eddie gets a good, steady job as a truck driver; but a series of disasters sends his life spiraling out of control and the fiercely loyal Joan’s along with it.Fritz Lang directs this hard-hitting melodrama and, as always, fills it with striking images. The shot of Eddie (Henry Fonda) in his cell, with the shadows of the bars reaching out to meet the bored and uninterested guard, stands out. The shots of a wide-eyed and desperate Fonda asking Joan (Sylvia Sidney) for a gun are a triumph for Lang, Fonda and Lang’s cinematographer, Leon Shamroy. Lang also gets excellent work out of his editor, Daniel Mandell, who helps Lang to juxtapose images in a suggestive way, e.g. the shots of the frogs with shots of Joan and Eddie.Standing back from the film and looking at is as a whole makes it something of a marvel. We begin with light comedy, proceed to an adorable romance and then follow the characters as their lives – and the film itself – grows steadily darker.

  • anna-blom
    anna blom

    That was Fritz Lang’s second American movie and it equaled his excellent debut “Fury”.Both feature an innocent man,both make a criminal (in a very special way in the 1936 work) of an innocent man.Okay ,Eddie is a three time loser ,but his love for Joan should allow him to find a job and to pick up the pieces.The chemistry between Sylvia Sydney (who was also in “Fury” ) and Henry Fonda is perfect and the two actors run the whole gamut of emotions.Joan believes in Justice (ironically however,the first scene of the apples,the only funny scene in the whole movie, could have warned her!)and that’s why she makes her one mistake : ” give yourself up,Eddie” .Eddie ,too,knows he was given a second chance and that you only live once.But fate is against him,and after losing his job,after dreaming of a peaceful life in a country home ,he unfairly stands accused of a massacre because his hat was found on the scene of the crime.”They made me a criminal” he says to his distraught wife.Tragedy will follow.SPOILER:It was mooted that the ending was a Christian one ,that now Eddie is free at last. Opening the prison gates was an illusive release,Heaven’s gates are awaiting on you.But isn’t it a bit ironical? If we have a good look at the existentialist title ,it is everything but a Christian panegyric.And however Lang was a true believer,and it was a Christian inspiration. .For Fritz Lang,every man is a potential criminal (“Woman in the window” “secret beyond the door” or “human desire” are prominent examples ).His last American movie ,the unfairly overlooked ” beyond a reasonable doubt” is also his most terrifying;We side with Eddie all along the movie ( we cannot stop ourselves from screaming “listen to Father Dolan ,Eddie,Please,listen to him!” during the hostage-taking scene).Lang makes us feel for his hero,surrounded by indifferent cold people (the boss ,the warden,the landlord and his missus) .You only live once,so you’ve got to see this masterpiece in this life!

  • renzo-longo
    renzo longo

    Upon release from prison an ex-con (Henry Fonda) tries to go straight and start a decent life with his new wife (Sylvia Sidney). However, he is sacked by his former employer and increasingly desperate considers returning to a life of crime.An impressive film with excellent direction by Fritz Lang who brings his unusual camera angles to bear on a bleak story. The film is said to be somewhat inspired by Bonnie and Clyde, but more than anything is an interesting exploration of how fate and circumstance can lead to disaster and tragedy. Moving at a crisp pace the film delivers plenty of suspense and surprises as Fonda is framed for murder not long after his release and, interestingly not long after he is fired, threatens to return to his miscreant ways. This keeps the viewer guessing as to whether Fonda’s proclamations of innocence are true when he is arrested. The film is quite bleak for its time and contains quite an uncharacteristic performance from Fonda as a man desperate and disgusted by the callous treatment given him by society. Fonda doesn’t entirely convince, but the film is still very good.