|Index||9 reviews in total|
With its limited settings, slow pacing, and small cast, this "B" movie
almost be staged as a radio drama. It offers little in the way of suspense
or romance and has no comic relief but there may be some academic interest
in its Roosevelt-era attitudes toward prisons, capital punishment, and the
power of the press.
Robert Wilcox, who always deserved better and who has one of the greatest heads of hair in the history of the movies, does what he can as the inmate who suffers a contrived and implausible string of bad luck. His best part came in the following year, however, when he played an inmate who endures a memorable flogging in "Island of Doomed Men."
The cheapo box I had made it seem like a vampire horror movie where someone is buried in a grave. So horror fans beware. But fans of little B movies might find this a pleasant diversion. Most remarkable is the very clear "Of Mice and Men" style relationship between the lead guy and his big, dumb buddy.
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 roles.it 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 Boone.now thats a bargain.as 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.
A prisoner with a spotless record, about to be paroled, encounters a
series of misunderstandings, unlucky accidents, and set-backs that
jeopardize his freedom and his future with the blonde prison infirmary
nurse he's fallen in love with. Sound interesting? IT'S NOT!
This movie is so badly written, it might be used as a textbook example of how not to construct a story. The exposition wanders around, trying to get a story started, and fails miserably.
It's not even clear who the main character is until about 45 minutes in. The script seems to have been written as some kind of protest piece against capital punishment. A worse punishment is trying to sit through this movie to the end.
Wooden dialog, poor acting and direction, and scene after scene in which characters' actions make absolutely no sense. This is almost Ed Wood- bad, but sadly it's not "so bad it's good". It's "so bad it's depressing".
"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
Let's see now. A central figure is the guy who throws the switch at
electrocutions. There are three guys in love with a woman who works as
a nurse at the prison hospital. One of the prisoners gets to dress up
in a suit and drive people around. The warden spends all of his time
trying to help this guy. The security is non-existent. The nurse falls
in love with the convict rather than the three guys who are in love
with her. If prisons were run like this, they would be empty. Everyone
would have walked away.
My favorite character is the executioner. He has the shakes but can't seem to quit the job. About once a month he puts the juice to someone. He really wants to buy a farm and raise chickens. Oh, there's also a chaplain who is in love with this woman. Then there is an evil reporter who frames the poor schmoe. Does this sound like something you'd like to see?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just read a wonderful interview with Beverly Roberts on the "Midnight
Palace" site and thought I would look up her films. I didn't know
anything about her but I managed to find this film which was just okay.
Directed by Victor Halperin of "White Zombie" fame it is the story of a prison executioner whose job is sending him around the bend. After enduring some taunts at a local bar, a brawl starts and Johnny, the Warden's prisoner chauffeur gets hurt, helping him out. As a result Johnny's parole is delayed.
Johnny's cell mate is a man called "Big Billy". Early in the film Johnny describes their friendship as similar to one in a book he had read (it wasn't named but it was "Of Mice and Men").
Big Billy is like a big kid - and he remembers all the guards who have treated him harshly. When he attacks and kills a guard - Johnny comes to his rescue but too late as Big Billy is shot while trying to escape. Once again Johnny has to prove his innocence.
Beverly Roberts has a pivotal role as the nurse, Joan, that Johnny loves and is determined to go straight for. This was Robert's last film for a decade - the big mystery is what happened to her in those intervening years??? She was no less talented than Wendy Barrie, who had a bigger career.
Dave O'Brien (minus his toupee) is one of the participants in the brawl and later in the film as a witness to an execution.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
reference to "Of Mice and Men" for Big Billy PRC was one of the
crappiest studios of the day. It consistently churned out films that
were ultra-low budget AND rather stupid. By comparison, the films of
Monogram and Republic looked like Oscar-contenders!! And, it's because
of this I was so shocked by "Buried Alive"...because it is actually
very good! Sure, the acting is occasionally shaky, but the story was
really good and it makes you think.
Despite the title, the film is set in prison. The film is an indictment of the prison system and a call for reform. It also appears to be a strong condemnation of newspapers. It begins with a prison trustee, Johnny Martin (Robert Wilcox), doing his best to make his stay in prison as brief and productive as possible. He is not only a model prisoner but does his best to look out for other prisoners. However, when he comes to the aid of a prison worker who is pulled into a fist-fight, a long series of unfortunate events occurs--resulting in Johnny NOT being paroled but being sentenced to the death chamber!! In addition to savaging the press, the film is very clearly anti-capital punishment and in favor of rehabilitation. It's unusual for its day and although it's a tiny bit preachy, it makes its case very well and is well worth your time. Cheap but effective and with a nifty ending.
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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