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Michael Howland, a stern hanging judge, is assigned to take over a chaotic prison. There Michael imposes a strict regime of discipline on the inmates. He is similarly rigid and harsh with his own two children Tommie and Anne. However, his son Tommie Howland eventually ends up incarcerated in his father's prison. Written by
This was the kind of film that was the bottom bill and I saw it when I was a teen. I don't recall precise plot points, but I remember the actors, and especially one, Mark Stevens. When he came on, I sat up straighter in my seat. Here was someone who I felt was going to be a star. He had that magnetism, that thing with the camera. Thomas Mitchell was a decent character actor who did good work in this and while I was not a fan, Edward Ryan was good as the rebellious son. And Mary Anderson, who did so many Bs, was okay, too. But Mark really stood out.
When I got home, I immediately wrote a fan letter to Mark Stevens, telling him I was sure I'd be seeing him starring in movies soon, that he was destined for stardom. I received a very friendly, appreciative letter from him and included was a gorgeous 8x10 photo of him, personally signed. (the studios seldom sent photos of that size.) And I was right--Mark was co-starring with Joan Fontaine a year later. And with her sister a year after.
That had to have been at least 68 years ago and I still have that photo. One evening I was watching a 50-some rerun of Murder She Wrote, not paying close attention, and I heard a voice. I knew that voice and I stared at the actor. He looked so familiar, an older, white haired man--and it dawned on me. Mark Stevens! I waited for the credits and yes, it was Mark.
So this film has been embedded in my brain all these years
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