You Only Live Once review

Showing as part of the National Film Theatre's two-month Fritz Lang season, this was one of his first Hollywood efforts. Henry Fonda, in an early leading role, is the convicted bank-robber who's resolved to go straight: on his release he finds a job and marries his devoted fiancee (Sidney). Soon, however, he's back inside, facing the death penalty after being linked to a major hold-up...

A precursor to such doomed lovers-on-the-run pictures as Bonnie And Clyde, the suspenseful You Only Live Once represents a despairing, fatalistic vision of society and the workings of the law.

The poignant performances of Fonda and Sidney, the Expressionistic visuals; and some superb set-pieces all make for engrossing viewing. And it's preoccupied by questions of perception, for both the characters and the audience, in which key moments prove to be highly ambiguous.

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