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Edward G. Robinson,
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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 <email@example.com>
The Criminal Code (1931) is often passed over when it comes to discussion of the films of Howard Hawks, but it's actually one of my favorites from him.
There are a lot of stagey aspects to be sure and the central love story is pretty boring, but there's just so much to love. The film experiments with sound, overlapping dialogue and using crowd noise as a plot element.
The two standout actors are Walter Huston and a pre-stardom Boris Karloff. Anytime either of them walks on screen, everyone else just evaporates. Huston does a great job making the audience love and despise his character. And Karloff is just mesmerizing as Galloway, a convict hell-bent on vengeance.
No masterpiece, but it is an early sign of Hawks' genius. And I would take it over Bringing Up Baby (1938) and His Girl Friday (1940) any day of the week.
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