The Criminal Code (1931)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  3 January 1931 (USA)
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After a failed attempt at running for governor, D.A. Mark Brady is appointed warden of the state prison where many of the criminals he prosecuted are incarcerated.




(from the stage play by), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Phillips Holmes ...
Robert Graham
Constance Cummings ...
DeWitt Jennings ...
Captain Gleason (as De Witt Jennings)
Gertrude Williams
Ethel Wales ...
Clark Marshall ...
Arthur Hoyt ...
Leonard Nettleford
John St. Polis ...
Dr. Rinewulf
Paul Porcasi ...
Tony Spelvin (as Paul Porcassi)
Otto Hoffman ...
Jim Fales
John Sheehan ...


A wily D.A.(Brady) gets a 10 year conviction of a young 20 year old (Robert Graham)who he knows killed a man in self defense. Years later Brady becomes warden of the prison holding Graham. When Brady realizes that 6 years of working in the prison jute mill has pushed Graham to the breaking point, he gives him a chance- a new job as his valet. Graham responds well and earns the respect of both the warden and his beautiful daughter. Graham's mettle is put to the test when he stumbles onto a prison murder committed by his cell-mate. He must choose between the criminal code of silence and the warden's strong persuasion to reveal the killer. Written by Gary Jackson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

warden | prison | jute | cell mate | murder | See All (69) »


Crime | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 January 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Codice penale  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


After drugging Katie the housekeeper with tea to insure his alibi, Galloway pours out the contents of the cup in the sink, presumably to preclude any analysis of it, but he leaves the teapot to be discovered. See more »


Mark Brady: An eye for an eye. That's the basis and foundation of the criminal code. Somebody's got to pay!
See more »


Alternate-language version of Criminel (1933) See more »


Music by J.S. Zamecnik
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An Eye for An Eye
3 June 2002 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

"The Criminal Code" is centered around the theme "An Eye for An Eye." This theme is the reason that young Robert Graham is sent to prison, the reason why the prisoners object to the D.A. becoming the Warden of the prison, and the reason why Graham is sent to "the hole" near the end of the film. For 1931, it was one of the first critical looks at this theme. It raises certain questions as to the morals of the law, and the Criminal Code versus the Prisoners Code. Phillips Holmes gives a good enough performance as Robert Graham, and Boris Karloff came off well as the inmate with a bone to pick (months before becoming Frankenstein), but the performance that I liked the most was Walter Huston, who played the D.A.-turned-prison-warden. Huston's character was a wily one, who said "Yeah" and "Yeah?" about a hundred times throughout the film.

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