They Live At Night appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer defied its age and looked very good.
Sharpness appeared nicely tight and distinctive most of the time. A smidgen of softness occurred, though I didn’t think those concerns became problematic, as the definition was fine most of the time. No issues with shimmering or jagged edges occurred.
Despite the film’s advanced age, source flaws were non-existent; this was a clean presentation. A good layer of grain appeared, so I didn’t suspect significant noise reduction.
Contrast was strong, as the movie consistently maintained a nice silver tone. Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows were smooth and well-defined. Overall, this was a fine presentation.
While not in the same league as the picture, the LPCM monaural soundtrack of Night also worked well. Speech seemed reasonably accurate and distinct, with no issues related to intelligibility or edginess. Music came across as fairly bright and lively, though dynamic range seemed limited given the restrictions of the source.
Effects were similarly modest but they showed good clarity and accuracy within the confines of nearly 70-year-old stems. This was a more than adequate auditory presentation for an older movie.
As we move to extras, we open with a 2007 audio commentary from film historian Eddie Muller and actor Farley Granger. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, the source and its adaptation, sets/locations, and various production notes.
For the movie’s first act or so, Muller largely acts as a moderator, one who attempts to elicit memories and insights from Granger. This doesn’t work, as Granger tends to offer only general thoughts, with an emphasis on what a great director Nicholas Ray was.
In the face of this fairly banal material, Muller changes tone and dominates the commentary for its final hour, and those portions work better. Muller still draws out the occasional memory from Granger, but the film historian does the heavy listing and turns this into a fairly informative chat. It never becomes great, but after a slow start, the commentary satisfies.
Also from 2007, we get The Twisted Road. This six-minute, 10-second featurette includes notes form critic Molly Haskell, filmmakers Oliver Stone and Christopher Coppola and film noir experts Alain Silver and James Ursini.
The featurette offers a rapid-fire look at various cinematic techniques, aspects of the production and thoughts about cast/crew. While it includes a lot of subjects, it runs through them too quickly, so we don’t get a lot of detail.
A 2017 piece, critic Imogen Sara Smith offers a 20-minute, 53-second interview. She discusses the source novel and its adaptation, Nicholas Ray’s life/career and work on Night, cast and performances, themes and genre areas. Smith presents an involving conversation that touches on the subject matter in an intelligent manner.
From 1957, an audio piece with producer John Houseman goes for six minutes, 36 seconds. He covers aspects of his career and work in this short but engaging chat.
Finally, we get a booklet. The foldout affair mixes photos, credits and an essay from critic Bernard Eisenschitz. As usual, the booklet becomes a nice addition.
When it indulges in its thriller side, They Live By Night satisfies, but the movie loses its edge as it goes. This proves to be a problem, as the sappy, sentimental tone seems unconvincing. The Blu-ray offers very good picture as well as adequate audio and a mix of mostly useful supplements. Though not a bad film, Night does disappoint.