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The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  28 February 1936 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,294 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 15 critic

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

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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
...
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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:

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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  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As a practical joke, director John Ford had the hairdresser put a funny-looking hairnet on her as she slept in her chair, wrapped her in an old horse blanket, and stuck a bottle of whiskey in her lap. Then he had the photographer take pictures of her and presented everyone with one the next day. 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

The Battle Cry of Freedom
(uncredited)
Written by George Frederick Root
Played by a band when the Civl War ends
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User Reviews

 
A fine early Ford
1 May 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I recently thought I would treat myself to a John Ford retrospective by viewing all the films of his in my collection (some 32) in chronological order. I was surprised at how little my rating of them had changed over the years, with the sole exception of "The Horse Soldiers" which seems to get better and better. I think my all-time favourites will always be "How Green was my Valley" and "The Quiet Man", while time can do nothing to redeem the sheer awfulness of "What Price Glory?" However, what really did surprise me about one of the most uneven of the great directors, was the tremendous visual flair of his films of the '30s. True there were some potboilers such as "Wee Willie Winkie" and "Submarine Patrol", but the period contains a Western, "Drums Along the Mohawk", that is right up there with the finest, "The Searchers" and "The Horse Soldiers", "The Hurricane", arguably the finest disaster movie of all time and "The Prisoner of Shark Island", a fascinating story of wrongful imprisonment. The latter is based on the true story of a country doctor who had the misfortune to treat the assassin of Abraham Lincoln during his flight, an action that prompted his arrest and incarceration in a prison island off the Florida coast. Anyone wishing to study action film montage at its most skilful need look no further than the first half-hour of "Prisoner". The reconstruction of the theatre assassination, Booth's flight, his encounter with Dr Mudd, Mudd's arrest and trial are shot with a breathtaking urgency of pace. If the last two-thirds seem a little conventional beside the whirlwind opening, this is partly due to the fact that the genre of prison drama with attempted escapes has become something of a cinema commonplace. It should not cloud the issue that this comparatively early example is still one of the best. Nevertheless the film is not without faults that largely arise from genre expectations of the period. John Carradine hams it all the way as a prison office oozing malevolence, Mudd's daughter is a Shirley Temple lookalike, simperingly coy and cosy and all the darkies, although thoroughly nice and obvious goodies in a troubled world, are portrayed as if they hardly possess a brain between them. Still, this is the sort of tosh it is wise to overlook in order to fully appreciate films as wonderfully crafted as this.


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