They Drive By Night (1938)

They Drive By Night poster

Also Known As:  Murder on the Run
Warner Brothers-First National Productions
Starring:
 Emlyn Williams, Ernest Thesiger, Anna Konstam
Directed by: Arthur B. Woods

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some major spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: Shorty Matthews (Emlyn Williams) has just been released from prison when he finds himself accused of killing a former girlfriend, causing him to go on the run while trying to prove his innocence.

Purr Blur: In one scene Shorty goes to meet with his former crooks to try to get help in his flight from justice. As he walks down a corridor, a white cat can barely be seen passing him.

They Drive By Night - white cat barely seen in corner

Cat Burglars (Scene Stealers):  Shorty meets up with a friend of the murdered girl, a dance hall employee named Molly (Anna Konstam). Molly finds an abandoned house where Shorty can hide. She gives him a sandwich and leaves him. As Shorty walks through the house he looks down and sees an adorable Bengal tabby at his feet.

They Drive By Night - Bengal tabby cat at man's feet looking up

They Drive By Night - Bengal tabby cat at man's feet

After lifting some nearby sheets, Shorty discovers some kittens belonging to the female shorthair. He picks one of the kittens up. In this shot the kitten looks tiny, as if it barely has its eyes open.

They Drive By Night - Shorty Emlyn Williams holding tiny tabby kitten

The camera cuts to another angle and this time the kitten looks a little older. Shorty sets the kitten back into the box and then tears off some pieces of sandwich for the litter.

They Drive By Night - hand holding tabby kitten

Shorty lays down to sleep and the mother cat approaches him but the scene cuts off. Later in the film Molly and Shorty are joined by the mysterious Walter Hoover (Ernest Thesiger) who states that he believes in Shorty’s innocence. This is because Hoover is the real killer and Shorty suspects this. While they are talking, the mama cat appears at Hoover’s feet.

They Drive By Night - Bengal tabby cat at man's feet

Hoover comments on what a pretty cat she is and picks her up. He is excited when Shorty tells him about the kittens and hurries over to see them.

They Drive By Night - Hoover Ernest Thesiger holding Bengal tabby cat with Molly Anna Konstam and Shorty Emlyn Williams

They Drive By Night - Hoover Ernest Thesiger holding tiny tabby kitten

Hoover convinces Shorty and Molly to come to his house and to bring the cats with them. Hoover is seen carrying the mama cat into his house while Molly carries the two kittens.

They Drive By Night - Hoover Ernest Thesiger holding Bengal tabby cat standing with Molly Anna Konstam and Shorty Emlyn Williams

They Drive By Night - Hoover Ernest Thesiger carrying Bengal tabby cat from cab

Once inside Hoover’s house they put the cats on his bed.

They Drive By Night - Hoover Ernest Thesiger placing Bengal tabby cat and kittens on bed with Molly Anna Konstam and Shorty Emlyn Williams

Later Hoover gets a saucer of milk to take to the cats. Molly goes with him and he sets the saucer on the floor and puts the cat and kittens down with it. Moments later when Hoover tries to kill Molly and Shorty comes in and fights him they appear to fall right where the cats were eating! But the cats are not mentioned or seen again.

They Drive By Night - Hoover Ernest Thesiger with Molly Anna Konstam holding kittens

They Drive By Night - Hoover Ernest Thesiger putting Bengal tabby cat on floor with Molly Anna Konstam

Final Mewsings: Both good guys and bad guys love cats!

Many thanks to Ted Davis for recommending this film to us!