John Ingram, successful oil-field firefighter, is really a chain-gang escapee. Someone out of his past finds him...

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(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Bobs Watson ...
...
Moose McCarthy (as Guinn Williams)
...
Diggs
Arthur Hohl ...
Rawlins
Esther Dale ...
Sarah
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lew Harvey ...
Workman (scenes deleted)
Mitchell Lewis ...
Workman (scenes deleted)
Louis Natheaux ...
(scenes deleted)
Ted Oliver ...
Workman (scenes deleted)
Lee Phelps ...
Guard (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

John Ingram of Oklahoma has a loving family, loves his work fighting oil fires, and is good at it. But 9 years ago, under another name he escaped from a Southern chain gang. Enter William Ramey, a "friend" from John's past, who gradually works up to a blackmail attempt under a promise to get Ingram cleared...but instead has him sent back to the old chain gang. Though determined to tough it out this time, circumstances compel Ingram to attempt another escape... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

SCREAMING NEW THRILLS WITH THE SCREEN'S "LITTLE CAESAR!" (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 September 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amenaza  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film received its USA television premiere on Friday 16 November 1956 on KTTV (Los Angeles); its New York City television premiere took place on 15 December 1956 on WCBS, and in San Francisco on 20 January 1958 on KGO-TV. See more »

Goofs

When John returns home after escaping, he pulls down the shade on the window over the kitchen sink, but leaves it a few inches above the windowsill, then embraces his wife. In the next close-up of the embrace the shade is fully closed down to the sill. See more »

Connections

Featured in From the Ends of the Earth (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Another fugitive from a chain gang
8 April 2014 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Almost 30 years before John Wayne did his tribute film to Earl 'Red' Adair the famous fighter of oil fires, Edward G. Robinson starred as a man with an oil fighting company, married to Ruth Hussey and with a son in little Bobs Watson. But in Black mail he's a fugitive from a chain gang being convicted of a robbery he didn't commit and escaping. Robinson keeps a low profile, as low as he can, but it isn't the law that spots him.

No it's Gene Lockhart and he knows him from when the robbery was committed. It was when both were in the navy and Lockhart was the real thief, but got scared and the money from the ship's purser which he stole in Robinson's bunk.

Now the scurvy little sneak develops a new scheme after first ingratiating himself with Robinson asking for a job and then rats him out with an exchange for a confession. You have to see how this works and I can't believe Robinson fell for it, but Lockhart gets control of an oil well that Robinson has a lease on and Robinson goes back to the chain gang.

Gene Lockhart made a career of playing all kinds of rat roles, but he really tops himself in Blackmail. You will love seeing how he gets his in the end.

The chain gang scenes are copied well from the classic film from Robinson's home studio of Warner Brothers. Chain gangs are as bad as they were when Paul Muni was serving on them and he too was framed for the crime he was sentenced for by circumstance. There's also a nice supporting part for Guinn Williams as Robinson's lunkhead assistant who has a good heart and actually proves valuable to him.

Fans of Robinson will like Blackmail it holds up well after almost 75 years.


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