MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 12,059 this week

The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936)

7.4
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,201 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 10 critic

The story of Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was imprisoned after innocently treating President Lincoln's assassin in 1865.

Director:

Writer:

(screenplay)
0Check in
0Share...

On Disc

at Amazon

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 25 titles
created 11 Sep 2011
 
a list of 35 titles
created 09 Sep 2012
 
a list of 38 titles
created 01 Apr 2013
 
a list of 24 titles
created 12 May 2013
 
a list of 40 titles
created 18 Oct 2013
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936)

The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936) on IMDb 7.4/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Prisoner of Shark Island.

User Polls

1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Aboard the freighter Glencairn, the lives of the crew are lived out in fear, loneliness, suspicion and cameraderie. The men smuggle drink and women aboard, fight with each other, spy on ... See full summary »

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell, Ian Hunter
The Informer (1935)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In 1920, an Irish rebel informs on his friend, then feels doom closing in.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Victor McLaglen, Heather Angel, Preston Foster
Arrowsmith (1931)
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Based on Sinclair Lewis's novel "Arrowsmith". A medical researcher is sent to a plague outbreak, where he has to decide priorities for the use of a vaccine.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Ronald Colman, Helen Hayes, Richard Bennett
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Newlyweds Gil and Lana Martin try to establish a farm in the Mohawk Valley but are menaced by Indians and Tories as the Revolutinary War begins.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Henry Fonda, Edna May Oliver
Wagon Master (1950)
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Two young drifters guide a Mormon wagon train to the San Juan Valley and encounter cutthroats, Indians, geography, and moral challenges on the journey.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Ben Johnson, Joanne Dru, Harry Carey Jr.
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The recently widowed Mary Stuart returns to Scotland to reclaim her throne but is opposed by her half-brother and her own Scottish lords.

Directors: John Ford, Leslie Goodwins
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge
Tobacco Road (1941)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Shiftless Jeeter Lester and his family of hillbilly stereotypes live in a rural backwater where their ancestors were once wealthy planters. Their slapstick existence is threatened by a ... See full summary »

Director: John Ford
Stars: Charley Grapewin, Gene Tierney, Marjorie Rambeau
Certificate: Passed Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A dramatized account of the role of the American PT Boats in the defense of the Philippines in World War II.

Directors: John Ford, Robert Montgomery
Stars: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed
Certificate: Passed Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Springfield, Illinois. Brandon, a surveyor, dreams of building a railway to the west, but Marsh, a contractor, is sceptical. Abraham Lincoln looks on as their children, Davy Brandon and ... See full summary »

Director: John Ford
Stars: George O'Brien, Madge Bellamy, Charles Edward Bull
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A meek milquetoast of a clerk is mistaken for Public Enemy #1, and the notorious killer takes advantage of the situation.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Jean Arthur, Arthur Hohl
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

In 1918 France, Captain Flagg commands a disreputable company of Marines; his new top sergeant is his old friendly enemy, Quirt. The two men become rivals for the favors of fair innkeeper's... See full summary »

Director: John Ford
Stars: James Cagney, Corinne Calvet, Dan Dailey
Four Sons (1928)
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A family saga in which three of a Bavarian widow's sons go to war for Germany and the fourth goes to America, Germany's eventual opponent.

Director: John Ford
Stars: James Hall, Margaret Mann, Charles Morton
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Mrs. Peggy Mudd
Claude Gillingwater ...
Col. Jeremiah Milford Dyer
Arthur Byron ...
Mr. Erickson
O.P. Heggie ...
Dr. MacIntyre
...
Commandant of Fort Jefferson
Francis Ford ...
Cpl. O'Toole
John McGuire ...
Lt. Lovett
Francis McDonald ...
Douglas Wood ...
Gen. Ewing
...
Sgt. Rankin
Joyce Kay ...
Martha Mudd
Fred Kohler Jr. ...
Sgt. Cooper
Ernest Whitman ...
'Buck' Milford
...
Edit

Storyline

A few short hours after President Lincoln has been assassinated, Dr. Samuel Mudd gives medical treatment to a wounded man who shows up at his door. Mudd has no idea that the president is dead and that he is treating his murderer, John Wilkes Booth. But that doesn't save him when the army posse searching for Booth finds evidence that Booth has been to the doctor's house. Dr. Mudd is arrested for complicity and sentenced to life imprisonment, to be served in the infamous pestilence-ridden Dry Tortugas. Written by Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 February 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Je n'ai pas tué Lincoln  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In a 1988 interview Gloria Stuart claimed that the only direction John Ford gave her was to cry louder when her doctor husband was condemned. See more »

Goofs

Two errors with respect to the conspirators trial and hanging scenes. First, Mrs. Surratt is seen with a hood over her head in the trial scenes; in reality, she was the only one of the prisoners not required to wear a hood at any time. Also, the hanging is depicted as taking place at night when, in reality, it took place on a scorchingly hot July day. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd: Once before I was a doctor. I'm still a doctor.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Directed by John Ford (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

Taps
(uncredited)
Written by Daniel Butterfield
Played by a bugler at the prison
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Tortured by a Nation for his Act of Mercy!
26 January 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Prisoner of Shark Island is directed by John Ford and written by Nunnally Johnson. It stars Warner Baxter, Gloria Stuart, Harry Carey, John Carradine, Ernest Whitman, Francis McDonald, Joyce Kay, Claude Gillingwater and Frank McGlynn. Music is by R.H. Bassett and Hugo Friedhofer and cinematography by Bert Glennon.

After setting the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth (McDonald), Dr. Samuel A. Mudd (Baxter) is tried as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (McGlynn). Sentenced to life imprisonment at the military prison of Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, Mudd desperately tries to stay sane and fight a vicious regime in the hope of one day proving the unjust nature of his sentence.

A personal favourite of Ford's, it's not hard to see why given that The Prisoner of Shark Island is supreme film making. Based on the true story of Samuel Mudd, there is perhaps unsurprisingly some little fudging of the facts, but this in no way detracts from the truthful basis of this incredible human interest story. Time is afforded to the joy at the end of the Civil War, Lincoln's weariness (McGlynn classy as usual), the assassination on that desperate day April 14th 1865, Mudd's family life and moral fibre and then the night he abided by his Hippocratic Oath and administered medical aid to the man who had just murdered the president. These are all delicately handled scenes by Ford, who aided by Johnson's screenplay manages to hit home to us the fragile nature of the Mudd incident that is harnessed by a country grieving with anger.

Once the trial arrives, the film shifts to another level, the delicacy of Ford's framing of characters and Johnson's rich dialogue passages are replaced by striking imagery and an impassioned performance by the wonderful Baxter. The hooded prisoners on trial for their lives and the wooden gallows outside the court chill the blood, then Baxter delivers his heart tugging three pronged defence monologue that is as good a piece of acting as was given in the 30s. Sentenced passed, execution off camera strikes a chord and then Mudd sits alone and forlorn in a darkened cell, filtered light shards imprison Mudd and let us know that Glennon has arrived to takes us up yet another notch.

What then unfolds is a superb depiction of the horrors of prison life, Fort Jefferson is a dank and desperate place, a place of misery for the prisoners, especially for Mudd, who has the patriotic but sadistic Sergeant Rankin (Carradine brilliant) after his blood. Ford is alive to the benefits of Carradine's nasty performance, so has him lighted as malevolent and angled like a horror movie protagonist. Some of the shots during the prison sequences are clinical on impact value, such as Mudd on his cell window sill or one capture as he stares down through a floor grate, shadows and light showing Glennon at his best and giving us a shot fit to grace the best film noirs of the 40s.

The rest is history as written, the desperation of an escape attempt, the yellow fever outbreak and his eventual pardon by President Andrew Johnson (this would be 1869 in reality). Nicely packaged by Ford who closes the picture down by having Mudd and Buck (Whitman an impressive presence throughout the picture), his one time black slave and loyal friend, return home to their families, harmony restored after such hardships. There is inevitably some annoyance by critics and film fans alike that the black characters are racial stereotypes, but this is a 1936 film depicting a story unfolding in 1865/67, Ford and Johnson's work here is representative of its times. And in no way, to my film loving mind, hurts this picture in any way.

Classic cinema in its purest form from the writing table to finished product, it's highly recommended viewing. 9.5/10


5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Purchace or Rental? ben1990
The Prisoner of Shark Island sjaytaylor
Guilty excaliber208
Does anyone know where this was filmed? jeanie_821
Discuss The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?