Jobless Betty Andrews, although innocent, is convicted of a department store theft and, despite the best efforts of her lawyer and noted social worker Mary Ellis and a reporter, Jim Brent ...
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Director William A. Wellman adds another to his long line of salutes-to-aviation films in this bio of an aviation pioneer, John Montgomery (Glenn Ford.) In 1883 he built a practical glider ... See full summary »
Jobless Betty Andrews, although innocent, is convicted of a department store theft and, despite the best efforts of her lawyer and noted social worker Mary Ellis and a reporter, Jim Brent on her behalf, is sentenced to a year in the Curtiss House of Correction. Chief Matron Brackett rules with an iron hand with the aid of inmates Frankie Mason, "The Duchess" and Nita Lavore. One of the inmates commits suicide and a subsequent story by Jim on the prison conditions leads to Mary Ellis being made the supervisor of the prison. When ten girls are allowed to go home for Thanksgiving under the promise of returning by eleven p.m., Frankie and "The Duchess", angry over losing the privileges given them by the departed Matron Brackett, arrange to have Betty kidnapped so she can not return at the appointed time. Another of the girls telephones Jim and he finds Betty a prisoner at a deserted roadhouse... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The best thing about this movie is Benjamin Kline's cinematography. Little noted, he was the DP of more than 300 films, including a lot of B westerns and Three Stooges shorts. Yet he always had a great eye and with a compliant director -- and that pretty much describes Nick Grinde -- he could shoot a handsome movie and this is one of them, with its early film noir prison photography -- he even manages to use a couple of subdued iris shots very effectively. Notice how the heavy shadows disappear and the camera begins to move after the prison reforms begin.
Mr. Kline never won an award, but he always did a good job, whether shooting a Tom Mix western (take a look at the surviving prints of SKY HIGH and marvel at how well they have aged) or Moe poking Curly in the eye -- comedy calls for bright flat lighting. He worked for more than fifty years and ended his career behind the camera of some TV movies: westerns, of course.
The story is pretty much of a retread of those crusading reform-the-prisons movies, like 20,000 YEARS AT SING-SING and CASTLE ON THE HUDSON. It hews strictly to the Production Code and it would be another decade and a half before lesbianism began to creep into this sort of movie. Rochelle Hudson, a good actress who never got beyond the Bs does a fine job, but while her performance is spot on, she always looks ready to slip out of that prison uniform she's been wearing all day while working in the prison laundry and into an evening gown for a night on the town. Few of the other actors, including a very young Glenn Ford are particularly good, which I blame Nick Grinde for.
This was quite obviously intended as a major production for Columbia, no major actors, but a lot of them for the crowd scenes. Although the reworked plot and mediocre acting by the majority of the cast don't do a thing for this, the solid performance by Miss Hudson and brilliant camera-work by Mr. Kline make this a superior movie.
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