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For You I Die (1947)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  17 December 1947 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 91 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 4 critic

A young convict,Johnny Coulter, serving as a trustee and with only a year remaining on his sentence, is forced to participate in a prison break by one of the hardened criminals. They ... See full summary »



(original screenplay)
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Cast overview:
Cathy Downs ...
Alec Shaw
Roman Bohnen ...
Jane Weeks ...
Marian Kerby ...
Maggie Dillon
Mannela Callejo ...
Louisa Shaw
Don C. Harvey ...
Mathew 'Matt' Gruber (as Don Harvey)
Charles Waldron Jr. ...
Patrolman Jerry
Rory Mallinson ...
Patrolman Mac


A young convict,Johnny Coulter, serving as a trustee and with only a year remaining on his sentence, is forced to participate in a prison break by one of the hardened criminals. They separate after the break but circumstances bring them together again. Johnny and a waitress, Hope Novak, fall in love and, together, they help the law recapture the escapee and his henchmen. Written by Les Adams <>

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Release Date:

17 December 1947 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Not As Bad As It Might Be.
14 November 2011 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

There used to be a secure niche in the movies for these inexpensive little B features in the 30s and 40s. The A feature would be some splashy, well-publicized show announced in overwhelming big red letters: "LEAVE HER TO LIMBO" or something, usually "based on the best selling novel" by F. Scott Bostwick. In between showings of the A feature, there would be a short black-and-white little movie, often about crime or cowboys. They frequently had titles like "Blondie Goes to Hollywood" but some of them were dandies They usually provided work for promising newcomers or old pros whose bones were beginning to creak. (Karl Freund, who was the photographer on Fritz Lang's "Metropolis", wound up shooting "I Love Lucy.")

This one isn't a dandy but it's earnest enough. It's about a disillusioned inmate, Paul Langton, who escapes from prison and finds himself stuck in a road house run by the watchful and forbearing Marian Kerby, a Ma Joad for the common man. Her tiny family of guests and relatives is diverse and familiar. There is the blond hootchy-kootchy floozie, the hypomanic Russian that Mischa Auer always played, the drunken but affectionate old cook, and finally the girl of the fugitive's dreams, Cathy Downs.

The performances aren't particularly bad. Langton will be a familiar face to movie buffs, though they may have a hard time placing him. He hooked into some conspicuous supporting parts in a handful of popular war movies. He was Ski in "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," the barber who tries to cut Alan Hale's hair in "Destination Tokyo," and one of the sailors in "They Were Expendable." Always a likable and reliable player, his career never went anywhere. He's the lead here, a kind of bitter everyman, but if he's not dynamic, he's not an insult to his art either.

Cathy Downs, an ex model, was an attractive young woman with a deep and honest voice. She was the object of Wyatt Earp's affections in "My Darling Clementine" and here -- less distant and reserved, with her hair down -- looks a little like Ella Raines. One can imagine why Langton finds her attractive.

In fact, one can imagine that this might have been a far better movie if it had had double the budget and a bit more talent behind the camera. It was shot by the expert William Clothier, but the director is John Reinhardt. His work is pedestrian. Whenever a group comes together, they stand as if staged for a tableau vivant. Let's see -- Langton, you stand there, and Marian over there, and Cathy, get close to Auer and stare at Langton. Good -- now, nobody move.

The drunken cook is Roman Bohnen and he makes little impression although he's capable of doing a good job in the right part, as when he reads Dana Andrews' commendations aloud towards the end of "The Best Years of Our Lives."

It was written by Robert Presnell in a strictly functional manner but one feels that he's repressing some of the zest he brought to movies like "Meet John Doe." In a dull comic scene, Auer pretends to be conducting a recording of some orchestral work by Brahms and Langton complains that you can't put ketchup on it. "My friend," says the ever exuberant Auer, "if you had a million bucks in the bank, Brahms' music would not be more beautiful!" It's not much but it's a palpable hit. There are a few other examples, including a dramatic conversational exchange that incorporates that silly sounding title.

I could be wrong but I'm left with the feeling that someone brought out a script, said "Make this in ten days," and then threw it in the direction of the wrong man.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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