“They Drive By Night”

aka “Murder On The Run”

Ernest Thesiger as Walter Hoover


Warner Brothers/First National Productions


“‘They Drive by Night’ is a murder-story set against an authentic background of dance palaces, public houses, seedy Soho clubs, and the huge wet expanse of the Great North Road, with its bungaloid cafes, the grinding gears, and the monstrous six-wheeled lorries plunging through the rain.  Well acted by Mr. Emlyn Williams as a young gaol-bird wanted for a murder he hasn’t committed, and superbly acted by Mr. Ernest Thesiger as Mr. Hoover, the sedate, pedantic sex-maniac with the sloping, humble walk, the grasshopper head, and the abominable pride, it gets the realistic twist out of every situation.  One remembers Mr. Hoover expatiating on the crime in the public house - the most authentic pub conversation I have heard on the screen:  Mr. Hoover saluting the stray cat, ‘Ah, you pretty thing!  Ah, my subtle one!’:  the absurd formalities of the dance palace.”

Graham Greene, The Spectator, April 21, 1939