Helen: Jim! Why haven’t you come before?
James Allen: I couldn’t; I was afraid to.
Helen: You could have written! It’s been almost a year since you escaped!
James Allen: But I haven’t escaped. They’re still after me. They’ll always be after me. I’ve had jobs, but I can’t keep them. Something happens. Someone turns up. I hide in rooms all day, travel by night. No friends, no rest, no peace.
Helen: Oh, Jim!
James Allen: Keep moving; that’s all that’s left for me. Forgive me, Helen, I. . .I had to take a chance to see you tonight, just to say goodbye.
Helen: Oh, Jim, it was all going to be so different.
James Allen: It is different. They’ve made it different. I’ve got to go!
Helen: I can’t let you go like this!
James Allen: I have to.
Helen: Can’t you tell me where you’re going?! Will you write? Do you need any money? But you must, Jim! How do you live?!
James Allen: I steal.
I saw this film for the first time last November, when I was in the midst of Noirvember. While I would argue that this is more of a precursor to film noir, rather than actual film noir, it is nonetheless a really wonderful film. Of the handful of Paul Muni’s films that I’ve seen, it is most definitely my favorite of his performances. Muni is one of those actors who completely disappears into the roles he plays and, sadly, is not all that well-known these days. This film was nominated for three Academy Awards, though it didn’t win any: Best Sound, Best Actor and Best Picture. The other films nominated that year were 42nd Street, A Farewell to Arms, Lady for a Day, Little Women, The Private Life of Henry VIII., She Done Him Wrong, Smilin’ Through, State Fair and winner Cavalcade.