They certainly don’t make them like this anymore. The music, the sets, the script. All of these elements come together perfectly in a classic movie which is a joy to watch. Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sydney deliver exquisite performances in Fritz Lang’s beautifully directed movie “You Only Live Once” which is out on DVD on June 4th 2012. My only bugbear with this film was that I couldn’t help thinking I should be watching a Bond movie which has a very similar title. However I put that aside and enjoyed every minute of this classic.
Partly based on the legend of Bonnie and Clyde, Eddie Taylor (Fonda) is a three time convict. On his release from prison, he is warned that new legislation means a fourth prison term would see him locked up for life. All Eddie wants is to go straight and settle down with his sweetheart Joan who has been waiting for him on the outside.
He gets a job driving a truck, puts a down payment on a house and all is going well. Then he is inexplicably sacked and framed for a bank job he didn’t commit. He is sentenced to the chair for murdering the bank guards but on the eve of his execution escapes prison. In the process of escaping he becomes a murderer for real. Eddie and now pregnant Joan go on the run but it’s only a matter of time before they come face to face with the authorities.
I could easily pick holes in the plot. There are several improbable events such as a gun hidden in a prison mattress and Joan giving birth by herself in a wooden shack. However they don’t eclipse the brilliance of Lang’s work or the joy of watching a timeless classic.