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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Three actors listed in Studio records as being in this film were not seen in the movie. These were (with their character names): Nat Carr (Convict), Lane Chandler (Guard) and Joe Devlin (Prisoner). See more »
Even though Bogart's character asks for 5 gallons of gas (90 cents at 18 cents a gallon), gas station attendant John Ridgely is able to pump it in only 8 seconds, faster than any gas pump on record. See more »
Aw pee yourself, Frankie! Here's one guy that's cut all his teeth.
Well how'd you like to have me shove 'em down your throat for you?
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"Who said anything about crime, this is a business."
Billy Halop led the Dead End Kids in three other films that paired them up with Humphrey Bogart - "Dead End" which gave the gang their name, "Crime School", and the memorable "Angels With Dirty Faces". Here, Halop co-stars as the conflicted Johnny Stone, a nineteen year old impressionable young man who looks up to petty hood Frank Wilson (Bogey). It's a fairly typical Warner Brothers era film, taking a dim view of crime and poverty, and makes you stay till the very end to find out whether Johnny can win out over his conscience.
Bogart's character is a vile sort, though he takes Johnny under his wing he's really all for himself. When a botched pawn shop robbery results in the murder of the owner, Wilson plants Johnny's gun at the scene. But Johnny's gun was "borrowed" from his sister's boyfriend, cop Fred Burke (Harvey Stephens), so now Burke is framed for the robbery and the murder. Winding up in Sing Sing prison for an unrelated caper, Johnny spends his entire time agonizing over whether to rat out Wilson or do the right thing.
There's a great cast of Warner's B stock players on hand to move the story along. Henry Travers is "Pop" the prison librarian who tries to help Johnny see things straight. Pop's in for life though we don't get to know what his crime was. When introduced to Johnny, the P.K. can't even remember his real name - "Pop will do, I'll never need another name" - one of the first serious hints to Johnny that maybe a life of crime isn't such a good thing.
Joe Sawyer, George E. Stone and Harold Huber are all on hand as prison inmates, with Toad (Stone) regularly making book on whether death row inmates will be executed. Huber's Scappa is totally unrecognizable compared to his roles in the Charlie Chan films of the same era. The one big surprise in the movie, and you'll recognize his voice before you even see him, is Eddie "Rochester" Anderson in an uncredited role as inmate Sam. He provides a touch of comic relief every time he visits Pop in the library for a new dessert recipe.
I always get a kick out of these early films for the perspective they give on the value of money. Wilson gets five gallons of gas for ninety cents, while Fred Burke plans on buying a house in Boston with his promotion that carries three hundred dollars a month - Oh for the good old days!
Though "You Can't Get Away With Murder" winds up being fairly formulaic, it's still a decent film with a lot of screen time for Halop, and Bogie building up a head of steam for his gangster sizzler "High Sierra". With only a couple of viewer comments to it's credit in this forum, the movie deserves a wider audience, especially if you're a fan of the principal players.
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