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Men Without Souls (1940)

 -  Action | Crime | Drama  -  20 May 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 19 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 1 critic

Johnny Adams arrives in a brutal prison under an assumed name after deliberately framing himself in order to kill White, a captain of the guards, because he had beaten Johnny's father to ... See full summary »



(original story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Men Without Souls (1940)

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Complete credited cast:
Blackie Drew
Reverend Thomas Storm
Rochelle Hudson ...
Suzan Leonard
Johnny Adams
Warden Schafer
Cy Kendall ...
Capt. White
Eddie Laughton ...
Dick Curtis ...
Richard Fiske ...
Walter Soderling ...
Old Muck
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Walter Sande ...
First Reporter (unconfirmed)


Johnny Adams arrives in a brutal prison under an assumed name after deliberately framing himself in order to kill White, a captain of the guards, because he had beaten Johnny's father to death. Rev. Thomas Stoner, also newly arrived, is the new prison chaplain, opposed by Schafer, the prison warden. Stoner learns of Johnny's intentions and dissuades him from following his plan, but when convict "Blackie" Drew kills White, Johnny is blamed. Written by Les Adsams {}

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Action | Crime | Drama


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Release Date:

20 May 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Men Without Souls  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Excellent moralistic convict drama
31 July 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is a gritty drama set inside a tough prison, with the new chaplain (John Litel) as the hero figure. However, the emphasis is not on the usual suffering, beatings, rattling locks and bars, and chain gangs of convict films, but is strongly story-oriented. The very young, almost baby-faced, Glenn Ford plays a new inmate who has committed a crime specifically with the intention of being jailed, so that he can kill the sadistic guard who murdered his elderly father, who had gone to that prison for a white collar crime. The chaplain figures this out and intervenes. (Rochelle Hudson has a brief scene in his office where she tearfully tells Glenn Ford how much she loves him and begs him to give up his mission.) There are numerous unexpected plot twists and a lot of rough stuff. Over-arching everything are moralistic concerns about the nature and justification of vengeance, of trust, of abuse of prisoners, about prisons in general. Some of the chaplain's simplistic 'hug a thug' philosophy is clearly ridiculous, but it is never pandered to in the story, since most of the cons callously reject his overtures to befriend and 'understand' them. The character actor Barton MacLane here has a rare opportunity to star in a film, as the violent inmate Blackie. His heart of gold is buried so deep you need a rock-drill to find it, but at the end, a few glints of gold appear as he dies with a confession on his lips and saying with his last breath the pathetic remnants of what he can recall of 'Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep' and making the sardonic comment to the chaplain: 'I bet you didn't think I knew any prayer'.

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