5 user 6 critic

Back Door to Heaven (1939)

Approved | | Crime, Drama | 4 December 1939 (Sweden)
The life of a young slum kid, who starts out stealing small things in order to fit in with the "crowd", winds up in reform school, and eventually spends much of his life in prison. Upon his... See full summary »



(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Anita Magee ...
Carol Evans
Raymond Roe ...
John Shelley
Charley Smith
Kenneth LeRoy ...
Bob Hale
David Johnson ...
Wallace Kishler
Frankie's Father
Jane Seymour ...
Frankie's Mother
Alfred Webster ...
Sheriff Kramer
Robert Vivian ...
George Spelvin
Robert Wildhack ...
Mr. Herzing
Hugh Cameron ...

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The life of a young slum kid, who starts out stealing small things in order to fit in with the "crowd", winds up in reform school, and eventually spends much of his life in prison. Upon his release, he finds that life on the outside can be just as hard as life on the inside. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

slum | See All (1) »


Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 December 1939 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Frankie  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The earliest documented telecast of this film in New York City occurred Thursday 10 July 1947 on Dumont's WABD (Channel 5); in the Los Angeles area its initial television presentation occurred Sunday 11 January 1948 on Dumont's KTLA (Channel 5); See more »


"The Things In My Heart
By Al Siegel
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User Reviews

The Unhappy Life of Frankie Rogers
18 December 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Played by Jimmy Lydon as a kid and Wallace Ford as an adult, Frankie Rogers the protagonist of Back Door To Heaven has a short and unhappy life and is someone who could never catch a break. I've known people like that one in particular from my past who didn't even have parents for his cognitive existence. He like Rogers could never get a break in life.

I wish I could have given Back Door To Heaven a better rating, the cast is a good one and the performances most sincere. But sadly this film is way too awash in sentimentality and pathos.

From an abusive parental household to assorting with sleazy types young Jimmy Lydon who only wanted to fit in gets sent to reform school and becomes a harden criminal. Nearly all the other kids in Aline McMahon's grade school class seem to have made something of themselves except him as he grows into Wallace Ford a hardened criminal. Eventually he moves inexorably to his appointed fate at the death house which he's determined to cheat.

Note the presence of a young Van Heflin before his success on Broadway in The Philadelphia Story and his Oscar for Johnny Eager. As a grownup he's a lawyer who tries to obtain mercy for Ford for a capital crime. McMahon does well as the beloved schoolteacher.

It's a sad film Back Door To Heaven, but it could have used a lot more work to make it OK.

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