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Thieves Like Us
File:Thieves Like Us Poster.jpg
Directed byRobert Altman
Written byEdward Anderson (novel)
Joan Tewkesbury
Calder Willingham
Robert Altman
Produced byRobert Altman
StarringKeith Carradine
Shelley Duvall
John Schuck
Bert Remsen
Louise Fletcher
Tom Skerritt
CinematographyJean Boffety
Edited byLou Lombardo
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • February 11, 1974 (1974-02-11)
Running time
123 minutes
CountryUnited States

Thieves Like Us is a 1974 film directed by Robert Altman and starring Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall. The film was based on the novel Thieves Like Us by Edward Anderson, which was also the source material for the 1949 film They Live by Night, directed by Nicholas Ray. The supporting cast includes Louise Fletcher and Tom Skerritt.

The film was entered into the 1974 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

Plot summary[]

Bowie, a youthful convicted murderer and bank robbers Chicamaw and T-Dub escape from a Mississippi chain gang in the 1930s. They hole up with a series of colorful associates and continue robbing banks. While hiding out at the home of Mattie and her two children, Bowie unwittingly insults Mattie by comparing her with his mother during an exchange that initially sounds like a pick-up. The insult, combined with the lascivious attention of the much older T-Dub toward Mattie's daughter Lula, and Bowie's later return with the young Keechie (now pregnant with Bowie's child) in tow inspires Mattie's revenge against Bowie.

Bowie is injured in an auto accident and takes refuge with the daughter of the gas station attendant, Keechie. They become romantically involved but their relationship is strained by Bowie's refusal to turn his back on crime. Chicamaw is eventually recaptured and T-Dub is killed while waiting in his car for his wife. Bowie poses as a sheriff's deputy to spring Chickamaw from jail but he quickly becomes disgusted with the violent, raving Chicamaw and abandons him on the side of the road. The Texas Rangers catch up with Bowie, who is betrayed by Mattie and meets a violent end. Keechie carries on, pregnant with Bowie's baby. (In Anderson's novel, she too is killed by the Texas Rangers.)


  • Keith Carradine as Bowie
  • Shelley Duvall as Keechie
  • John Schuck as Chicamaw
  • Bert Remsen as T-Dub
  • Louise Fletcher as Mattie
  • Tom Skerritt as Dee Mobley

Production notes[]

This film has no traditional score. All music in the film is diegetic music or "source music," usually presented as coming from a radio.

The film features a large number of small-town people as extras, including Lloyd Jones, an actual Mississippi State Highway Patrolman.[citation needed] Thieves Like Us was largely filmed on location in Mississippi.

Awards and honors[]

  • 2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – Nominated[2]
  • 2008: AFI's 10 Top 10:
    • Nominated Gangster Film[3]

See also[]

  • List of American films of 1974


  1. "Festival de Cannes: Thieves Like Us". Retrieved 2009-04-26.
  2. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  3. "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-20.

External links[]

Template:Robert Altman