Joe Sullivan is itching to get out of prison. He's taken the rap for Rick, who owes him $50 Grand. Rick sets up an escape for Joe, knowing that Joe will be caught escaping and be shot or ... See full summary »
Jim Ackland, who suffers from a head injury sustained in a bus crash, is the chief suspect in a murder hunt, when a girl that he has just met is found dead on the local common, and he has ... See full summary »
Two guys, sharing an apartment, meet twin girls. One is Shirley Temple grown-up, and the other is a major piece of bad news. The nice one is murdered and her boyfriend is accused of the crime. The wrong man-wrong victim plot strikes again.
Realistic Prison Drama Narrowly Misses Its Potential
This movie proudly bears the label of a semi-documentary and comes complete with the usual Foreword about all the incidents being portrayed exactly as they happened, and all photographed on their actual locations, using real warders, guards and convicts, etc.
Personally, I doubt that the movie was shot in its entirety inside the actual prison there's even a credit for 2nd unit direction and photography. But be this as it may, the studio material is certainly extremely well integrated with the location footage. Credit for this achievement is mostly due to John Alton, whose masterful photography makes Canon City must watching for connoisseurs. True, Alton's work here is less tantalizing than usual as he was required to match up his shots with Strenge's rather dull location work. Nonetheless, there are still more than a few indications (the profile silhouette on Brady's face) of genius behind the camera.
Crane Wilbur's screenplay is less praiseworthy, but typical of that writer's detached, tabloid newspaper-style approach. He loves the sort of narrated rhetoric employed by contemporary newsreel commentators (Reed Hadley does a good job here with the actual narration), but fortunately his dialogue is less flowery and more realistic.
Generally Wilbur's direction rates as rather dull, but here his handling is even occasionally inventive, although his experiments are not always successful (as for example in the oddly oblique use of the first-person camera right at the beginning, with the on-screen characters swapping words with the disembodied narrator).
In all, however, the film emerges as a reasonably engrossing prison melodrama, convincingly acted (except oddly by the non-professionals), compellingly photographed, and tautly written. Despite its foregone conclusion, the storyline does build up a moderate amount of excitement and tension.
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