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You Only Live Once (1937)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 29 January 1937 (USA)
The public defender's secretary and an ex-convict get married and try to make a life together, but a series of disasters sends their lives spiraling out of control.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Gene Towne (screenplay), C. Graham Baker (screenplay) (as Graham Baker)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sylvia Sidney ... Joan Graham
Henry Fonda ... Eddie Taylor
Barton MacLane ... Stephen Whitney
Jean Dixon ... Bonnie Graham
William Gargan ... Father Dolan
Jerome Cowan ... Dr. Hill
Charles 'Chic' Sale ... Ethan (as Chic Sale)
Margaret Hamilton ... Hester
Warren Hymer ... Buggsy
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Roger (as Guinn Williams)
John Wray ... Warden Wheeler
Walter De Palma Walter De Palma ... Monk Mendall
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French version of the German movie The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933). Both movies were directed simultaneously by Fritz Lang in Germany.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke, Thomy Bourdelle

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Storyline

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. Written by Tim Horrigan <horrigan@eworld.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He robbed... kidnapped... he murdered... Because of the love of one woman! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A cast list with character names in the Fritz Lang papers at USC includes the following actors, none of whom were in the viewed print: John Beck, Harry Bernard, Dorothea Wolbert (People in post office), Walter Soderling (Man in teller's cage), Frank Hammond (Lounger in store) and Russ Powell (Sheriff in store). It is not known if scenes with these actors were shot at all, or just deleted from the released print. See more »

Quotes

Joan Graham: Anywhere's our home. On the road. Out there on a cold star. Anywhere's our home.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Joker (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

A Thousand Dreams of You
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Louis Alter
See more »

User Reviews

 
A Poignant story
15 August 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

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.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 January 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three Time Loser See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$575,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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