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They Live by Night

They Live by Night(1949)

Remind Me

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When the car they have commandeered blows a tire, escaped convicts Henry "T-Dub" Mansfield, Elmo "One Eye" Chickamaw Mobley and Bowie Bowers start on foot for Chickamaw's brother's place. Having hurt his ankle during the escape, Bowie is forced to stop and hide until Keechie, Chickamaw's niece, picks him up after dark. The plainly attired Keechie, who helps her alcoholic father in his gas station, disapproves of her uncle's criminal ways, but is immediately attracted to Bowie. While Mobley is procuring a car for the fugitives, which they plan to use in a bank robbery, Keechie and Bowie talk about their lives. Bowie reveals details about his troubled youth and how he was found guilty of murder when he was only sixteen. Sure that he did not receive a fair trial, Bowie tells Keechie that he intends to use his share of the robbery money to hire a lawyer in Oklahoma. Chickamaw and T-Dub, meanwhile, arrange with T-Dub's sister-in-law Mattie to use their share to get T-Dub's brother Richard out of jail. Having volunteered to be the "getaway" driver, Bowie scouts Zelton, the Texas town where the robbery is to take place, and buys a woman's watch from the local jeweler. After T-Dub and Chickamaw successfully hold up the bank, Chickamaw and Bowie go on a spending spree, buying nice clothes and a second car. Half-drunk and charged up, Chickamaw, who like his brother is an alcoholic, causes Bowie to crash his car on a busy street. When a suspicious policeman arrives on the scene, Chickamaw shoots him, then speeds away with the unconscious Bowie in the second car. Chickamaw leaves Bowie with Keechie and goes to join T-Dub in another town. After Bowie awakens, Keechie nurses him, and he presents her with the watch he bought in Zelton. Touched, Keechie admits her feelings to Bowie and offers to run away with him. Reading in the newspaper that his gun and fingerprints were found in his abandoned car, Bowie, whom the press has dubbed "The Kid," realizes that, even though he now has money, he cannot go to Oklahoma as hoped. Instead, he and Keechie board a bus together, finally stopping in a small town where, on an impulse, they decide to marry. Hawkins, the shady justice of the peace, not only performs the ceremony, but sells them a "hot" car as well. In their new convertible, Bowie and Keechie head for a remote mountain resort, where Keechie had once stayed as a child. The newlyweds set up house in a rundown cabin and dream about the day when they can live openly together. As Christmas approaches, however, Bowie is paid a surprise visit by Chickamaw, who has gambled away his loot and now wants Bowie to help T-Dub and him rob another bank. Fearing the worse, Keechie gives Bowie the watch she had bought him for Christmas and begs him not to participate in the robbery. When Bowie meets with T-Dub, who was unable to get his brother out of jail, however, he is bullied into joining the robbery. During the robbery, T-Dub is killed and Chickamaw, wounded. Once again, the press describes Bowie as the gang's leader, causing the alcohol-deprived Chickamaw to explode with envious fury. Finally fed up with Chickamaw's viciousness, Bowie dumps him by the roadside and drives back to the cabin. There he learns that not only was Chickamaw killed while breaking into a liquor store, but also that Keechie is pregnant. The nerve-wracked couple then abandon their cabin and head east. After days of driving at night, Keechie and Bowie feel safe enough to spend a pleasant day together in public. When Bowie is recognized by a gangster in a nightclub, however, the couple makes plans to flee to Mexico. On the way, Keechie becomes ill, and she and Bowie stop at a motel owned by Mattie. While Bowie drives back to see Hawkins, whom he believes can help him cross the border, Mattie makes a deal with the police to give up Bowie in exchange for her husband's release. After Hawkins refuses to help Bowie, saying that he "can't sell hope where there ain't any," Bowie returns to Mattie's place and tells her that, to protect Keechie and their unborn child, he is leaving by himself. Mattie encourages Bowie to say a final goodbye to Keechie, and he writes her a farewell note before heading for their cabin. As he is about to enter the cabin, however, the police descend on him, provoking him to draw his gun and be shot. Bending over Bowie's slain body, Keechie finds his goodbye note and sadly reads out loud the words he could never say to her while alive, "I love you."