Despite its comparatively upbeat ending, Let Us Live is one of the darkest and gloomiest films of the late 1930s. As working stiff Brick Tennant, Henry Fonda is once more cast as a misunderstood victim of society. Held up during a robbery-murder, Brick is himself convicted of the crime on the basis of circumstantial evidence and faulty eyewitness testimony. The authorities remain unsympathetic to the hero's plight throughout, automatically assuming that just because he's poor he's likely to be a killer. Only his sweetheart Mary Roberts (Maureen O'Sullivan) believes in Brick's innocence, and it is she who sets the wheels in motion for the ultimate capture of the genuine culprit, a scant few minutes before Brick's "long walk" to the electric chair. Based on Joseph F. Dineen's Murder in Massachusetts, the real-life story of a near-fatal miscarriage of justice in 1934, Let Us Live refuses to compromise its pessimistic tone with a phony "all smiles" fadeout.