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The Criminal Code (1931)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  3 January 1931 (USA)
7.1
Your rating:
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 583 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 10 critic

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.

Director:

(uncredited)

Writers:

(from the stage play by), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Phillips Holmes ...
Robert Graham
Constance Cummings ...
...
Galloway
DeWitt Jennings ...
Captain Gleason (as De Witt Jennings)
...
Gertrude Williams
Ethel Wales ...
Katie
Clark Marshall ...
Runch
Arthur Hoyt ...
Leonard Nettleford
John St. Polis ...
Dr. Rinewulf
Paul Porcasi ...
Tony Spelvin (as Paul Porcassi)
Otto Hoffman ...
Jim Fales
John Sheehan ...
McManus
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 January 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Codice penale  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The prison yard sequence was shot at M-G-M, using the set originally built for "The Big House" (1930). See more »

Quotes

Mark Brady: [to Graham] Tough luck, Bob, but that's the way they break sometimes. You got to take them the way they fall.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Erotican
(uncredited)
Music by Mikulicz
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A great depression era prison film with some lessons unlearned
9 October 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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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