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 (email@example.com)
Love finds its way... behind the gates of prison!
Did You Know?
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
I'm worried about Ernie.
Dr. Robert Lee
I wouldn't worry about it too much. He always puts on an act like that.
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.
Referenced in The Man Who Came to Dinner