They Live By Night [Thieves Like Us]

Culver City, CA: RKO Radio Pictures, 1941. Early Draft script for the 1948 film, dated June 13, 1941, preceding its release by seven years.

Based on Edward Anderson’s 1937 novel, "Thieves Like Us," about an escaped convict who falls in love with a woman who nurses him back to health after he is injured in a robbery.

In December 1936, RKO’s considered Anderson’s novel but rejected it prior to any adaptation being written. Writer-director Rowland Brown, who by 1941 controlled the rights to the novel, wrote the first attempted draft of a screenplay. This time around RKO accepted it, and Brown sold the rights to them for $10,000. When Brown’s script was first submitted to the Breen Office in April 1941, director Joseph I. Breen deemed it “unacceptable,” claiming that it contained too much criminal activity and “loose sex.” Brown revised the first draft on June 13, 1941, but it was again rejected by the Breen Office.

A revised script, written by Robert D. Andrews, was submitted in October 1941 and was rejected for the same reasons as Brown’s drafts. RKO did not submit the script again until September 1944, when it was rejected for a fourth time. From Aug 1946 to May 1947, when Ray was working on the script, the PCA rejected three more versions of the story, stating each time that the adaptation dwelt too much on the characters’ crimes and not enough on morality.

Script approval finally came in June 1947, after RKO executives met directly with Breen an incorporated his suggestions into the story.

Set in the American West, shot on location throughout California, including Canoga Park, Newhall, Arcadia, Griffith Park, Benedict Canyon, the San Fernando Valley, San Bernardino Mountains, and the RKO Encino Ranch.

Gray titled wrappers, noted as production No. 1243, dated June 13, 1941, with a credit for Rowland Brown. Title page integral with first page of text, with a credit for Rowland Brown. 153 leaves, with last page of text numbered 152. Carbon typescript, rectos only. Pages Near Fine, wrapper Very Good plus, bound with three gold brads with washers.

[Book #149562]

Price: $4,500.00