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Daniel L. Haynes,
Nina Mae McKinney,
Richard Walters is condemned to death for a murder he claims not to have committed. He arrives on death row just before a brutal inmate leads the other convicts in a violent uprising. Walters gets caught up in the riot, while on the outside his friends are trying to find evidence of his innocence. Written by
The Last Mile was a popular play of the early depression years that had starred Spencer Tracy on Broadway in the principal role of Killer Mears. His performance there, brought him rave critical notice and a Hollywood contract with Fox Films. Also Clark Gable portrayed the same role in a West Coast production and his performance there got him noticed by MGM who signed Gable and launched that career.
Interesting that two of Hollywood's major stars from the studio era both owed their careers to this play. But The Last Mile didn't come to the screen from a major studio. It was a small independent B film and the biggest name they could get was Preston Foster. Not that Foster was bad, but I really would have loved to see either Gable or Tracy tackle this part for the screen.
Nevertheless Foster does a capable job. During the 30s he was in some top drawer films. Besides this Foster is probably best known for his role in The Informer as the IRA captain who hunts, tries, and then orders the execution of Victor McLaglen. He drifted downward into B films in the 40s and later on gave good performances in supporting parts. His best later career film was Kansas City Confidential, supporting John Payne.
Although its dated and overacted in spots, The Last Mile is still good entertainment and a must see for those who are opposed to capital punishment. Some of the stereotypes of the prisoners on death row are still in use today, most notably in The Green Mile.
But to have only seen Tracy or Gable do it.
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