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Devil's Island (1939)

Approved | | Drama, Thriller | 7 January 1939 (USA)
Unjustly condemned to Devil's Island and condemned to death, Dr. Gaudet's life is spared when his surgical skills save the life of the commandant's daughter.



(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nedda Harrigan ...
Madame Lucien
Col. Armand Lucien
Adia Kuznetzoff ...
Rolla Gourvitch ...
Will Stanton ...
Edward Keane ...
Dr. Duval
Tom Wilson ...
John Harmon ...
Richard Bond ...
Earl Gunn ...
Soupy (as Sidney Bracy)


For treating a wounded revolutionary, respected brain surgeon Dr. Gaudet is sentenced to the hellish French penal colony on Devil's Island. There, he rebels against the inhuman conditions and incurs the wrath of the brutal commander, Colonel Lucien. When Lucien's daughter is injured in an accident and only Gaudet can save her, the tables are turned. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He escaped from a life worse than death . . . Devil's Island . . . the last haven of horror for the fiercest criminals on earth ! See more »


Drama | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

7 January 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Song of Hell  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Filmed late June-early August 1938 (copyright 1939), Boris Karloff's first screen role since The Invisible Menace (1938) in late 1937. His next two features were Mr. Wong, Detective (1938) (copyright 1938) and Son of Frankenstein (1939) (copyright 1939). See more »


When the horse and carriage run away, it is obviously a dummy who falls out, not the commandant;s daughter. See more »


Madame Lucien: [Refering to Gaudet] Did you see him, Daniel?
Daniel - Madame Lucien's Servant: Yes, Ma'am.
Madame Lucien: How is he?
Daniel - Madame Lucien's Servant: Not good, Madame. He'll be a crazy man before long unless he gets out of there.
Madame Lucien: If there only was some way I could help him!
Daniel - Madame Lucien's Servant: [He looks around to be sure no one is listening] There is a way, Madame... money, for the bell.
Madame Lucien: The bell?
Daniel - Madame Lucien's Servant: That's the word we convicts have for freedom.
Madame Lucien: Could he... could he buy his way to freedom?
Daniel - Madame Lucien's Servant: Money will buy anything on this island, Madame. It'll buy a man's way to the coast and a boat too with which ...
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Remake of Devil's Island (1926) See more »


La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Variations in the score throughout
See more »

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User Reviews

A Superb Karloff Sleeper
16 July 2001 | by (Out there in the dark) – See all my reviews

"Devil's Island" is a true B-movie sleeper. It delivers more than enough of the expected prison-colony misery and escape drama. Director Clemons stirs up plenty of outrage and excitement. At the movie's core are two excellent performances by Boris Karloff and James Stephenson.

This is a non-horror picture, so some Karloff fans will see him in a new light: here as a tragic victim of circumstances. The humanity that this underrated performer brought to his well-known horror roles serves here to inform his character with more than enough substance to transcend the melodramatic plot. Stephenson wisely underplays the villainy of his sadistic Colonel Lucien. Behind the handsome exterior lurks an ice-cold, manipulating opportunist.

The only criticism must be for relentless, brassy music scoring. Woefully typical of the period, the music virtually never lets up, overly punctuating the more than adequate story-telling. Particuarly heinous is the 'death march' that underscores the credits and immediately outstays its welcome with a quote from the "Love for Three Oranges" March by Prokofiev.

In sum, a well-wrought adventure yarn. Worth seeking out.

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