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The Criminal Code (1931)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 3 January 1931 (USA)
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 »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Robert Graham
DeWitt Jennings ...
Captain Gleason (as De Witt Jennings)
Gertrude Williams
Ethel Wales ...
Katie Ryan
Clark Marshall ...
Arthur Hoyt ...
Leonard Nettleford
Dr. Rinewulf
Tony Spelvin (as Paul Porcassi)
Jim Fales


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 <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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?


Movie debut of Constance Cummings. See more »


Robert calculates there are 52,560 hours in six years. However, he forgets leap years with their extra day. So, in a span of six years there would actually be 52,584 or 52,608 hours, depending on if that period included one or two leap years. See more »


Mark Brady: [as a pretty witness puts up her skirt to show her leg] Never mind that. Pull down the shade.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film's credits do not say that Howard Hawks directed the film; instead, they say that the film is "A Howard Hawks Production." See more »


Featured in The Whole Town's Talking (1935) See more »


Cryptic Shadows (Agitato Mysterioso)
Music by Giuseppe Becce
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Criminal Code straddles the line between 2 societies
8 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Sometimes you seem to get into a position where you have to take your medicine for an even unintended actions. That is what happens to poor 20-year-old Bob Graham, and within 10 minutes into the movie, he's in the infinite world of prison, where he must learn yet another set of codes of the criminal sort. Creepy Ned Galloway (Boris Karloff just before his "Frankenstein" turn) takes a rather minor (at least early on) role and fills it with gusto (maybe its that creepy little haircut) in a claustrophobic cell. Later, he does the right thing for rehabilitated and soon-to-be-paroled (maybe) Graham, who does not violate the titular Criminal Code (since he's still a con).

James Whale wanted Karloff for his monster after seeing Boris in this flick, and after you see it, you'll know why.

BTW, who doesn't love a good prison movie yarn, and with Karloff in it, it rates a "9."

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