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. ... See full summary »
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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 film was refused a UK cinema certificate in 1932. See more »
[first title card]
"The Last Mile" is more than a story of prison and of the condemned. To me it is a story of those men within barred cells, crushed mentally, physically and spiritually between unrelenting forces of man-made laws and man-fixed death. And justly or unjustly found guilty, are they not the victims of man's imperfect conventions, upon which he has erected a social structure of doubtful security? What is society's responsibility for ever-increasing murders? What shall be done with ...
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Kindly, sympathetic, upstanding convicts who are on Death Row for no good reason that we ever learn (except that we know Dick Walters has been wrongfully convicted)are put to death by prison guards who vary from indifferent to mean, while the Warden agonizes over what good capital punishment does and the meaning of it all -- until an attempted prison break turns him into the most bloodthirsty of all.
The one-set stage play is opened up a little bit by scenes showing the crime for which Walters has been convicted and the discovery of the criminals who really committed the crime. Good performances are turned in by Preston Forster as Killer Mears, the one prisoner who shows a mean streak that may have landed him on Death Row; and by Daniel L. Haynes, who had starred in Hallelujah three years earlier, as the token black singing prisoner.
Anti-death penalties dramas haven't become more balanced or less simplistic; if anything, the thumb on the scale is even heavier in The Green Mile's recounting of the execution of angelic Michael Clarke Duncan. But today more realistic depictions of prison life and prisoners abound in cable television documentaries, and the misplaced sentimentality of The Last Mile toward its misunderstood convicts isn't easily swallowed. It does, however, have Killer Mears' bravado line at the end of the prison break: "I think I'll go get a little air."
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