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Invisible Stripes (1939)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  30 December 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 878 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 7 critic

An ex-con who wants to go straight has difficulties trying to reintegrate into society while on parole.



(screen play), (from a story by), 1 more credit »
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Title: Invisible Stripes (1939)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Taylor
Chuck Martin
Mrs. Taylor
Paul Kelly ...
Ed Kruger
Lee Patrick ...
Henry O'Neill ...
Parole Officer Masters
Frankie Thomas ...
Moroni Olsen ...
The Warden
Margot Stevenson ...
Joe Downing ...
Johnny (as Joseph Downing)
William Haade ...


Cliff and Chuck leave prison together. Cliff tries the straight life but falls back into crime with Chuck and his gang. When he makes enough to enable his brother Tim to buy a garage and marry his sweetheart, Cliff quits crime again. But when he tries to help Chuck later on, he's implicated again. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

garage | prison | ex con | parole | police | See All (55) »


Three Men and a Girl... Bound by Invisible Ties - Branded by Invisible Stripes


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 December 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hombres marcados  »

Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


It's a last film by "First National" productions were actually made under Warner Bros. control, even though the two companies continued to retain separate identities until the mid-1930's, pre-1960 after which time "A Warner Bros.-First National Picture". See more »


When George Raft Goes into William Holden's room for a fight, he is wearing arm bands with his shirtsleeves pulled down over them. Then they disappear, and return in another shot in the same scene. See more »


Cliff Taylor: I hope you get just what you want all tied up in a pink ribbon and handed to you on a platter. So long, honey.
See more »


References You Can't Get Away with Murder (1939) See more »


All in Favor Say 'Aye'
(1939) (uncredited)
Music by Cliff Friend
Played at the party
See more »

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User Reviews

Unable to go Straight
28 August 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

George Raft and Humphrey Bogart after a stretch in prison are getting out together. Raft is going to make a go of the straight life, but Bogart just wants to get back to being a criminal.

Raft makes a try at it, but the fact he's an ex-con is continually being held against him. Eventually he rejoins the old gang, but keeps it a secret from mother Flora Robson and brother William Holden.

Holden in the mean time is barely keeping his financial head above water at the gas station he works at. He's thinking real hard himself that brother Raft might have the right idea. All this is most distressing to Flora Robson and his fiancé, Jane Bryan.

At Warner Brothers, it's all been done before, the players slip comfortably into roles that are very familiar to them.

George Raft, a guy with limited skills was always believable in the urban criminal milieu because of who he hung out with. From Owney Madden to Meyer Lansky and most importantly Bugsy Siegel, Raft inhabited the wise guy world and basically was what you saw on the screen. Please recall Warren Beatty's film Bugsy which was spot on about Raft's relationship with him.

It's interesting to speculate that if Raft had been at Warner Brothers from the beginning of his career instead of Paramount what path it might have taken. The best gangster flicks were done by the Brothers Warner, but by 1939 with their stable of gangster stars established, Raft is like a spare tire there.

This was Bill Holden's second film and his joint contract holders of Paramount and Columbia lent him out here. He's playing the callow youth parts he specialized in before Sunset Boulevard. 'Smiling Jim' roles was what Holden disparagingly called these parts. It is rumored that Holden is also one of the extras in the prison yard in the James Cagney-George Raft film Each Dawn I Die. I've never been able to spot him though.

Flora Robson's one great actress, her talents allowing her to play a slum mother and Queen Elizabeth the first. Some critics say she's wasted here and maybe she is, but one of her better later roles is as Mrs. Gonzo, the Maltese mother in Alec Guinness's The Malta Story. Very similar part.

Jane Bryan's career was cut short all too soon, but not with tragedy, far from it. Shortly after this Bryan married Rexall Drug founder Justin Dart. She concentrated on the wife and mother thing and she was the wife of one of America's wealthiest citizens. Later on she had a hand in convincing her husband to back another of her former Warner Brothers contract players in a political career and lived to see Ronald Reagan become our 40th president.

Both Bill Holden and Humphrey Bogart would feud legendarily on the set of Sabrina in the Fifties. No hint of their future troubles here in Invisible Stripes. Bogart's done it all before at Warner Brothers. George Raft helped Bogey in his career by shortly turning down High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon and later Casablanca.

Fans of all the players mentioned here including myself will enjoy this film which admittedly won't rank in the top 10 of any of their credits.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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