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Buried Alive (1939)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  6 November 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.8/10 from 113 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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Complete credited cast:
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)
Gus Barth (as Peter Lynn)
Wheeler Oakman ...
Norman Budd ...
The Kid
Boyd Irwin ...
Edward Earle ...
Charlie Blake
Robert McKenzie ...
Al Garrity (as Bob McKenzie)
Don Rowan ...
Big Billy


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 (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bakom fängelsets murar  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

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 »


Johnny Martin: [after hearing his parole's been denied] So this is what I've been working for, is it? For three years I've listened to a lot of guff and watched my step every minute because I want to get out of prison and now you're givin' me the business. And you want me to be a model prisoner for six more months and try again? Well, no thanks, mister! I'm simple enough to be a sucker twice from now on? You can take that model prisoner bunk and stuff it in the dismal swamp! I'll tell you what a model prisoner...
See more »


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

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User Reviews

Not a horror movie
19 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

despite the title buried alive is'nt a horror film,nor is it a film about anyone being buried alive,its a well made PRC poverty row prison melodrama about a prison trustee(Robert Wilcox) who gets in a jam after helping a prison employee in a bar room brawl.he gets hurt and ends up in the prison sick bay and falls in love with the prison nurse(Beverly Roberts)it has the look of an old warner brothers crime drama,i kept waiting for the dead end kids to show up.for a low budget movie its pretty good.warner Oakland and don Rowan(both from the buster Crabbe flash Gordon serials play supporting was directed by victor halperin(white zombie)i bought this DVD for a buck at a local dollar store,it has 2 features on it,the other is the infamous ;i bury the living with Richard thats a a fan of vintage horror and dramas I'm always on the prowl for these bargains.buried alive is 7 out of 10,pretty good b-movie.

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