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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?


Although Flora Robson played George Raft's mother, she was actually six years younger than he was. 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 »


Parole Officer Masters: Parolees are supposed to be impervious to insults.
See more »


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


Sweet Georgia Brown
(1925) (uncredited)
Music by Maceo Pinkard and Ben Bernie
Second tune played by the band at the dance
See more »

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User Reviews

Programmer with some bright spots
29 August 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

"Invisible Stripes" was based on a book by the same former prison warden responsible for the (far better) "20,000 Years in Sing Sing." Casting really does matter.

George Raft turns in a characteristically wooden performance as the ex-con trying to go straight in a world stacked against him. It really is heart-breaking to watch the different ways he loses jobs, unable to shake the shadow of the "invisible stripes" that cover any convict. The strictures on parolees in the 1930s, if accurately depicted, *do* seem a little on the strong side--they weren't even allowed to have drivers licenses! Raft is paired with, in the accurate words of another reviewer, an "unrecognizably young" William Holden. Flora Robson, who plays their mother, was actually six years younger than Raft at the time of shooting. Jane Bryan is convincing and touching as Holden's long-time fiancée.

Bogart spices up the story considerably, in a performance that may have been routine on the page but which comes fully to life in his hands. The film was originally to have been cast with Jimmy Cagney and John Garfield, but Bogart replaced Cagney in order to give him a vacation. I can't help but wonder how much better the film would have been with Garfield in the Raft role. Raft may have known the gang life inside out, but he couldn't act his way out of a paper bag.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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