6.3/10
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You Can't Get Away with Murder (1939)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 20 May 1939 (USA)
Youthful tough Johnny Stone has fallen under the influence of petty crook Frank Wilson, who involves him and robbery and murder using his sister's boyfriend's stolen gun.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Frank Wilson
...
Madge Stone
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Johnnie Stone
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Attorney Carey
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Pop
...
Fred Burke
...
Scappa
...
Red
Joe Downing ...
Smitty
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Toad
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Principal Keeper (as Joseph King)
...
Warden
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Gas Station Attendant
...
District Attorney
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Storyline

Johnnie learns crime from petty thug Frank Wilson. When Wilson kills a pawnbroker with a gun stolen from Johnnie's sister Madge's fiance Fred Burke, Fred goes to Sing Sing's death house. Wilson uses all the pressure can to keep Johnnie silent, even after he and Johnnie themselves wind up in the big house. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

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Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

20 May 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Explorando o Crime  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original play opened in New York on 26 March 1937. See more »

Quotes

Sam: [after shining his shoes] There you are, Pop. There's one you can see your face in.
Pop, Sing Sing Librarian: What I want is one I can see YOUR face in.
[Sam laughs]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Invisible Stripes (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Better than average gangster/prison film ala 1930's Warner Brothers
16 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Don't come to this film expecting that much Bogart or that much action, and you'll probably enjoy this 80 minute-long late 30's crime drama.

Billy Halop of the Dead End Kids is the real star of this film, made two years before Bogart became a true star at Warner Brothers, but this time Halop is minus the other Dead Enders. Here he plays John Stone, a kid from Hell's Kitchen who idolizes small-time gangster Frank Wilson (Humphrey Bogart). John is troubled because it has always been himself and his sister alone against the world, and now big sister is seriously dating cop Fred Burke (Harvey Stephens). John feels replaced by Burke and also resents the guy trying to be a substitute big brother to him.

Frank and Johnny pull off one gas station robbery without a hitch, giving Johnny a taste for more, but the second robbery does not go so well, with Frank killing a pawn shop owner. The problem is that the gun left at the scene was stolen from Burke, is easily traced back to him, and soon Burke is sitting in the death house for a crime committed by Frank and Johnny. In the meantime, Frank and Johnny are picked up and sent to prison for a short stretch (3 years) for their first robbery. In spite of his rough exterior Johnny really has a conscience, and it's working on overdrive with Burke sitting in the same prison as Johnny, except Burke is awaiting execution, not parole. Time is counting down to both Burke's execution and the end of Johnny's sanity. Frank has no problem having someone else fry for his crime, but he can see Johnny is cracking up and he has to come up with some way to keep the kid quiet.

Henry Travers has a supporting yet significant part as the prison librarian - Pop - in a role that seems to be a warm-up for playing Clarence in "It's a Wonderful Life". He plays probably the only true father figure Johnny has ever had. Eddie Rochester Anderson of Jack Benny Show fame lightens the film just a bit as an inmate who comes to the library each day just to read cookbooks aloud.

As for Bogart, he's at his nastiest here without a shred of humanity. As Pop says, "He's the kind of guy who's so crooked if he tried to go straight he'd crack".


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