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Buried Alive (1939)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  6 November 1939 (USA)
4.9
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Ratings: 4.9/10 from 107 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 2 critic

A prison trustee rescues a despondent executioner from a bar-room brawl, and is blamed for the fight by a tabloid reporter who actually started it, and loses parole, becomes embittered, and gets blamed for murder of guard.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Robert Wilcox ...
Johnny Martin
Paul McVey ...
Jim Henderson
Ted Osborne ...
Ira Hanes (as Ted Osborn)
George Pembroke ...
Ernie Matthews (as Geo. Pembroke)
Stephen Chase ...
Dr. Robert Lee (as Alden Chase)
George Lynn ...
Gus Barth (as Peter Lynn)
Wheeler Oakman ...
Manning
Norman Budd ...
The Kid
...
Riley
Boyd Irwin ...
Rutledge
Edward Earle ...
Charlie Blake
Dave O'Brien ...
Carson
Robert McKenzie ...
Al Garrity (as Bob McKenzie)
Don Rowan ...
Big Billy
Edit

Storyline

Ernie Matthews, who operates the prison electric chair, is having a crisis of conscience about his role as state executioner. His unrequited love for Joan Wright, another prison employee, adds to his depression. She in turn loves Johnny Martin, the warden's chauffeur and a trustee eligible shortly for parole. When the despondent Matthews goes to a local road house after an execution to get drunk, he's taunted by a sadistic reporter, and a brawl results. Because Johnny came to Matthews' aid in the fight, the parole board, pressured by the press, turns down his expected release, and Johnny reacts bitterly, forcing the warden to rescind his privileges. When Johnny's mentally challenged cell mate Big Billy strangles a sadistic warder, it is only Johnny's intervention that keeps a second guard from being killed. Another vindictive convict, Gus Barth, the only living witness to Johnny's heroism, spitefully hides the truth, hoping that Johnny goes to the electric chair. Written by Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Love finds its way... behind the gates of prison!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bakom fängelsets murar  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Actor/stuntman Dave O'Brien plays the part of a reporter without his signature hairpiece, but he is wearing it when he doubles Robert Wilcox in the bar brawl scene. Even with his hairpiece on, it is obviously O'Brien. See more »

Quotes

Jim Henderson: I'm worried about Ernie.
Dr. Robert Lee: I wouldn't worry about it too much. He always puts on an act like that.
Jim Henderson: Somehow it doesn't seem like an act today. I hope nothing goes wrong.
Dr. Robert Lee: Don't you worry, warden. When the time comes, Ernie'll step right up there and throw that switch just like it's all in a day's work.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Man Who Came to Dinner (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A very tedious prison drama
19 August 2010 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

This mind-bogglingly tedious and utterly meaninglessly titled prison-drama is about a convict who is wrongly accused of killing a prison guard and subsequently sentenced to death by electric chair. Victor Halperin is at the helm here, he will be known to some as a director of some low grade poverty row genre pictures of the 30's. This has to be his least enjoyable feature that I have seen so far. It simply never gets going. It's very much a drama with little in the way of thrills; however, this is not a problem in itself. The issue is that the set-up and character relationships are not believable or compelling. The prison itself is like no other I know of, where felons are allowed out to work as chauffeurs for staff and even go drinking with them in bars in town. It's very silly. So too is the romantic sub-plot, where it seems that every man in the prison is deeply in love with the nurse/token woman. It's kind of trite and is a weak and pointless thread, as it doesn't really generate any worthwhile developments in the plot.

One of the few points of interest in the plot is the way the film deals with the issue of capitol punishment. It seems to be very much anti-death penalty. This surprised me, as I thought that the general consensus back in the 30's would have been 'kill them, kill them!' Shows you what I know, turns out there were some very libertarian humanistic views on the subject back then. So that was quite interesting. Sadly not a lot else actually was.


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