Two prisoners, Saint Louis and Dannemora Dan, escape during a theatrical production in order to go to the aid of Steve, a former prisoner whose past is about to be exposed by the man who framed Judy unless Steve agrees to help him commit another crime. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
This is the first John Ford film in which Spencer Tracy appeared: their second collaboration took place three decades later, when Tracy starred in Ford's The Last Hurrah (1958). It is strange to realize that these two great Irish American icons only collaborated two times (Tracy narrated How the West Was Won (1962), one of the sequences of which was shot by Ford, but that doesn't count as a true collaboration), but for most of their careers, they were bound to different studios, Ford to 20th Century-Fox and Tracy to M.G.M. By the time the freelance era rolled around in the late 1950s, Tracy was appearing in very few movies. See more »
[Cautioning Steve on why he should not embark on a violent act of vengeance]
Steve, did you ever see a guy go to the 'chair'? Huh? Well, I did. I spent eight months in that Condemned Row. Watched 'em go, one by one. Pals of mine. Guys you'd say 'good morning' to in the morning. And 'good night' to at night. And then they'd go. And I'd wait, day after day, week after week, month after month, wondering if I was gonna' be the next to go.
[Voice rising with emotion]
Let me tell ya', that's no picnic,...
[...] See more »
I'm a fan of old 1930s movies, but this one really has nothing going for it except a very young Humphrey Bogart & Spencer Tracy. The movie's 92 minutes long, of which about 30 minutes consists of song & dance numbers (amateurish, to say the least) & a prisoners baseball game (with no real baseball action). Heavy on the comedy, but with only 1 or 2 chuckles. Warren Hymer is poor as the comic relief. Spencer is good & his natural delivery is in evidence here. Bogey is fine, playing a guy younger than Spencer (he's actually a year older), & this is one of the only movies where Bogey actually has a parent (a dear old mom); only "Dead End" comes to mind as a role for him with a parent. He's very good, but a little awkward at times, & he overdoes it a bit in one emotional scene near the end. It's very strange seeing Bogart play a romantic part in a standard Hollywood (soft) way, compared with his tough guy romances in his later films. A couple of other striking features of this film: there's only about 3 male & 1 female black prisoners in the jail, & there seemed to be such a "shortage" of black actors available, that they needed two white guys to do a blackface minstrel routine! The Woman's Auxiliary & the warden's daughter walk around the prison yard & mingle with the prisoners unescorted, as if they were at some sort of country club! Bogey gets to nervously shift pebbles from hand to hand in one scene; I wonder if he drew on this experience 24 years later for his similar actions as Lieutenant Commander Queeg in "The Caine Mutiny"? Claire Luce is suitably good as the romantic interest; Joan Marie Lawes is also good as the precocious warden's daughter. The plot, if there is one, is seriously underdeveloped amidst the song & comedy routines, & the expected ending is oddly left hanging without real resolution. I give it 2 points for Bogart & 2 points for Tracy, & rate this movie 4/10.
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