They Drive by Night (1938)

UK, 1938
35mm film, black and white, 1.37:1
mono, English

A British borderline horror film directed by Arthur Woods.

Plot Summary

Shorty Matthews is released from prison after serving a short term for petty theft and tries to hook up with his old gang. When they disown him after his former lover is found strangled with a silk stocking, Shorty flees London and joins the nocturnal world of truck drivers. He meets Molly at a roadside cafe who tries to help him prove his innocence. They seem to find an ally in Mr Hoover, an amateur criminologist, but he’s a vicious serial killer and is trying to fit Shorty up for his crimes.


* = uncredited

Directed by: Arthur Woods
© [not given on screen]
First National Film Distributors Limited presents. Produced by Warner Bros-First National Productions Limited
Executive Producer: Jerome J. Jackson
Screen Play & Dialogue: Paul Gangelin, James Curtis, Derek Twist
Based on the novel by James Curtis
Dialogue Direction: Anthony Hankey
Director of Photography: Basil Emmott *
Editor: Leslie Norman *
Musical Direction: Bretton Byrd
Sound: Leslie Murray *, H.C. Pearson *
Art Directors: Peter Proud *, Michael Relph *
Studio: Teddington Studios[, Teddington, London, England, UK]

Emlyn Williams ([Albert Owen] “Shorty” Matthews)
Anna Konstam (Molly [O’Neill])
Allan Jeayes (Wally [Mason])
Ernest Thesiger ([Walter] Hoover)
Jennie Hartley (landlady)
Ronald Shiner (Charlie)
Anthony Holles (Murray)
Billy Hartnell [real name: William Hartnell] (bus conductor)
Kitty de Legh (Mrs Mason)
Joe Cunningham (Det. Pryor)
Yolande Terrell (Marge)
Julie Barrie (Pauline)
Bernard Miles [police detective at snooker hall] *
Iris Vandeleur [flower seller] *

Alternative Titles

Efter mörkrets inbrott – Sweden
He ajavat öisin – Finland



  • Catholic Film News vol.1 no.8 (June 1939) p.12 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.6 no.61 (January 1939) p.2 – credits, review
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.134 no.4 (28 January 1939) – review


  • The BFI Companion to Crime by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.322 – review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.394 – credits