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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A great depression era prison film with some lessons unlearned
The lessons unlearned belong to Walter Huston's character, Mark Brady, but I'll get to that later.
Philip Holmes plays Robert Graham, a young man of twenty who gets into an altercation in a dance hall and ends up killing the other guy, someone he's never even met before. D.A. Mark Brady is not a man without compassion. He even states how, were he the defense attorney, he would get the boy off without serving a day. As a result, he sends him up for manslaughter rather than murder. However, that is still ten years, and six years into the sentence Graham is a man who is losing hope and his sanity.
In an odd twist of fate D.A. Mark Brady becomes warden of the prison, a place inhabited by many of the men he helped convict. The prison doctor comes to Brady with a request - let Graham be Brady's private driver for awhile, to get him out of the prison factory. Brady agrees. A few short months later and Graham is beginning to have a new lease in life. Plus, there is a complication - he is falling in love with Brady's daughter. However, an event soon occurs at the prison that threatens Graham's hope for a better future.
As for the lessons unlearned, the one quirky thing about this film is how D.A. turned prison warden Brady keeps saying "you've go to take things how they break", never realizing that in many cases - exhibit A being the case of inmate Robert Graham - Brady is in total control of how things break, in particular the fact that Robert Graham, a basically square kid, is an inmate in the first place. However, at least Brady is not a hypocrite, since he seems to be willing to take the good with the bad in his own life as well. A pretty complex character for an early 30's film.
Of course all classic movie fans are familiar with Walter Huston and his many abilities and roles. However, most people will not have heard of Philip Holmes. Partly this is because his early successes in film did not lead to better things as the 1930's progressed, and the rest of the reason is that many of his early successes occurred at Paramount, whose early films have been largely unseen for decades. This is worth checking out. The screenplay was nominated for an Oscar, and the performances are quite good.
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