5 user 1 critic

36 Hours to Kill (1936)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 24 July 1936 (USA)
Gangster Benson is on a train with G-man Evers and newswoman Marvis. First these two have to get the gangster, then they have to get each other.



(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crack-Up (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Colonel Gimpy heads a spy organization trying to get the plans for a new airplane. Test pilot Ace Martin agrees to help.

Director: Malcolm St. Clair
Stars: Peter Lorre, Brian Donlevy, Helen Wood
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Injured scientist Eric Godfrey asks his protege to give him a fatal dose of opiates to end his misery. When he dies the doctor is accused of murder.

Director: George Marshall
Stars: Gloria Stuart, Robert Kent, Henry Armetta
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

A couple who are always quarreling split up temporarily while she goes to France and teams up with a playboy who's being sued for breach of promise.

Director: Eugene Forde
Stars: Gloria Stuart, Michael Whalen, George Sanders
Comedy | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Ad man (Erwin) is jailed when it is believed he murdered a beautiful girl. His wife (Stuart) sets out to solve the crime.

Director: Alfred L. Werker
Stars: Stuart Erwin, Gloria Stuart, Raymond Walburn


Complete credited cast:
Jeanie Benson
Dr. Borden
Gloria Mitzi Carpenter ...


Gangster Benson is on a train with G-man Evers and newswoman Marvis. First these two have to get the gangster, then they have to get each other.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

24 July 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Across the Aisle  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


(FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Referenced in She Was an Acrobat's Daughter (1937) See more »


Row, Row. Row Your Boat
Sung a cappella by Brian Donlevy and Gloria Stuart as a round
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Fast-paced delight

One of the movies I've previously reviewed for IMDb is 'Sleepers West', a taut low-budget thriller. '36 Hours to Kill' has a set-up so similar to 'Sleepers West' that at first I thought they were both based on the same novel. They aren't, and the films go in different directions after that initial set-up. Both films feature the same three archetypes as main characters: a tough cynical lawman, a young woman reporter of the 'news hen' Lois Lane type, and a gangster who won't hesitate to murder anybody who gets in his way. Also, both films set most of their action aboard a cross-country train.

And that's part of the excitement. Movies set aboard a moving vehicle (especially a train) are pretty much boredom-proof.

'Duke' Benson has always prospered from his illegal activities as a mid-level gangster, secure in the knowledge that the Feds are more interested in going after bigger gangsters. But somehow Benson has been promoted to public enemy #1, and he doesn't fancy the attention. Now, Benson has attracted even more attention for an unexpected reason: he's just won the sweepstakes! As he notes, this is the first *honest* money he ever made. (I recall a real-life case from the 1980s, when a mid-list Mafiosa won a big lottery prize. After some investigation, the lottery officials conceded that this career criminal had won the lottery drawing honestly.)

Benson and his cheap moll wife Jeanie are aboard the same train as G-man Evers and news hen Marvis, and that's no coincidence. Marvis is trying to get a big scoop on Benson, while Evers hopes to arrest him. Big macho hero Evers is played by Brian Donlevy, who should have played gangster Benson instead. Donlevy has a cold personality that made him miscast in sympathetic roles (including Professor Quatermass), but which worked well whenever he played a villain.

'36 Hours to Kill' starts out like a semi-comedy in tone, then plunges us into a borderline-noir action thriller, climaxing in a gun battle in Benson's hideout. Speaking of comedy: one unfortunate resemblance between this film and 'Sleepers West' is that both films feature a 'comedy' performance by a black actor in a stereotypical role as a Negro porter. Here, the role is given to Stepin Fetchit ... no further comment is necessary, surely. Fetchit's character is named Flash, so you know he's a slowpoke.

There are good performances by Warren Hymer (one of my favourite character actors) as Benson's goon, and by reliable stalwarts Jonathan Hale, Charles Lane and Julius Tannen. Speaking of which: it was Tannen who invented the catchphrase that has been attributed to George M Cohan. When Cohan was still performing in vaudeville with his parents and his sister as the Four Cohans, he attended a Friars Club dinner at which comedian Tannen did imitations of several vaudeville headliners. Tannen attempted to do an imitation of all Four Cohans at the same go: a turn which ended with Tannen imitating George M Cohan and saying to the audience 'My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you and I thank you.' Knowing a good line when he stole one, the real Cohan appropriated the fake Cohan's curtain line.

In a rare leading role as the news hen, Gloria Stuart shows considerable beauty and talent: I'm disappointed that this fine actress walked away from the stardom she could have had, decades before her splendid comeback in 'Titanic'. '36 Hours to Kill' isn't quite as good as 'Sleepers West', largely due to the miscasting of Donlevy and a bad performance by Douglas Fowley, who was more effective in smaller roles. But this is a highly enjoyable and fast-paced film, and I'll rate it 8 points out of 10.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 5 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page