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You Only Live Once

Looking back to the boldly-stated fatalism of his German films, and - in the on-the-run figures of Sidney and Fonda - forward to the likes of Bonnie and Clyde and Pierrot le Fou, Lang's superb film noir constantly breaks the boundaries of the 'social consciousness' movie category within which it was originally pigeonholed. Determinism is here at the crux of a social, psychological, and generic network, as three-time-loser Fonda finds his guilt or innocence merely the stuff of ready-set alternative newspaper headlines; and Lang constantly queries the narrative thrust with visuals that pose their own ambiguous riddles. Even the title is challenged by the movie's final shot: less a sentimental cop-out than the rigorous working through of a schema that incorporates three essential levels of perception: Fonda's own, society's, and the audience's.

Release details

Rated: PG
Duration: 86 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Fritz Lang
Screenwriter: Gene Towne, Graham Baker
Cast: Sylvia Sidney
Henry Fonda
Barton MacLane
Jean Dixon
William Gargan
Warren Hymer
Margaret Hamilton
Jerome Cowan
Ward Bond
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