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Buried Alive (1939)

Approved | | Drama | 6 November 1939 (USA)
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:
...
...
Johnny Martin
...
Jim Henderson
Ted Osborne ...
Ira Hanes (as Ted Osborn)
George Pembroke ...
Ernie Matthews (as Geo. Pembroke)
Stephen Chase ...
Dr. Robert Lee (as Alden Chase)
...
Gus Barth (as Peter Lynn)
...
Manning
...
The Kid
...
Riley
Boyd Irwin ...
Rutledge
...
Charlie Blake
...
Carson
...
Al Garrity (as Bob McKenzie)
Don Rowan ...
Big Billy
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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

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The earliest documented telecast of this film in the New York City area was Wednesday 13 December 1950 on WABD (Channel 5). See more »

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

Guard Mike Gurney: Sure, I'll hit, and I'll hit hit you again any time you get outta line!
Big Billy: Some day when you hit me, I'll squeeze your neck 'til it pops! I'm Big Billy. I'm strong - stronger than you are! Stronger tha anyone is!
[Shakes his hands]
Big Billy: That's why you're afraid to hit me without a blackjack. I'm smart, you know!
See more »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
Of Rice and Men
8 March 2009 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

"A prison trustee is soon to be released from prison when he ends up stopping a bar brawl involving one of the prison guards. After some unkind press for him on the bar brawl, the convict is turned down for his early parole. Will his love for the prison nurse help him in getting past all of the people trying to keep him in prison and looking at the electric chair?" according to the DVD sleeve's synopsis.

"Buried Alive" is a potentially interesting look at the electric chair era, and the public servants who organize the executions. But, the main story, involving handsome Robert Wilcox (as Johnny Martin) doesn't end up serving the film's morality question; at least, not the one introduced in the opening, by twitchy switch-puller George Pembroke (as Ernie Matthews).

A "love story" between Mr. Wilcox and beautiful nurse Beverly Roberts (as Joan Wright) isn't terribly exciting. The book Wilcox describes, while driving, is John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" - which makes Wilcox "George" and cell-mate Don Rowan (as Big Billy) "Lennie". In the 1929s, prisoners did a lot more reading (and motion pictures were sometimes too talky).

*** Buried Alive (11/6/39) Victor Halperin ~ Robert Wilcox, Beverly Roberts, George Pembroke


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