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Though low-budget and rather predictable, "Parole, Inc." is a fairly good
crime story. It moves reasonably quickly, and keeps the viewer's attention
most of the time.
Hendricks (Michael O'Shea) is a federal agent investigating widespread abuses of the parole system. Several dangerous criminals have received unjustified paroles, and evidence points to an organized system of bribery. Agent Hendricks has to go undercover and win the confidence of the gang involved. O'Shea does a creditable job in the lead. Turhan Bey plays a suave lawyer who figures in the agent's investigation.
The story that follows is generally predictable, without any real twists or surprises. But it is done well enough to be fairly interesting, is moderately fast-paced, and is usually believable. The characters are mostly stereotypes, but are not overdone.
Overall, this is a watchable movie that should hold some interest for fans of crime films.
There's nothing like a movie made in the 40s. There is a simplicity of perspective that is utterly refreshing when compared to the rubbish that passes for entertainment these days. The entire cast is excellent, the plot clean and easy to understand. Well before the half point of the film, I was rooting for the undercover agent to succeed. I like the fact that the crooks were't so smarmy as to be stereotypes. They were rotters but somehow still seemed human. The end of the film has a strong build up. I really enjoyed this forgotten movie. I wonder how many other B movies are so good. Working my way down IMDb list of available films online, I may soon know.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was an interesting little mystery/crime thriller dealing with
criminal conspiracy in the parole system. Plotted rather well with a
wide cast of characters, you really had to concentrate on the players
to keep it all in focus. Undercover detective Richard Hendricks
(Michael O'Shea) has three names in the story, recruited by the
Governor and State Attorney General to try and find out how a string of
recent paroles occurred to put nasty gangsters back on the street. It
was rather comical to see Hendricks in an opening scene in a hospital
bed with his face crudely bandaged up with gobs of tape. He proceeds to
tell his story in somewhat of a flashback style, and it works pretty
well as he comes in contact with various mobsters and henchmen in the
employ of Jojo Dumont (Evelyn Ankers), owner of the Pastime Club. She's
in league with her shady lawyer boyfriend, Barney Rodescu (Turhan Bey),
who has contacts on the parole board that line their pockets as he
calls the shots.
I would like to have seen a darker and seedier atmosphere for the picture given the subject matter. Everything seemed to take place in the bright light of day, and I didn't get the impression that the Pastime Club was the sleazy gin mill and cheap cafe that it was described to be. Glenda Palmer (Virginia Lee) had a rather nice and spacious apartment on waitress wages, and though you could say she was bankrolled by her convict husband Harry (Charles Bradstreet), he was still doing time when the story opened. Too bad Harry tried to do an end run around Jojo; he seemed like a decent enough guy otherwise, for a criminal.
The best part about the picture is the way Hendricks infiltrates himself into the set up with Charley Newton (Paul Bryar) and the boys. You can tell some thought was put into the story when you have Hendricks leaving clues he was a hood back in his hotel room. A lot of stories of the era would have glossed over small details like that and would have assumed the viewer would take it for granted. It was touches like that, that place the film a notch above similar flicks of the era, like 1947's "Big Town After Dark". There was enough credibility in the characters and situations to play out effectively, and you didn't have to scratch your head over a bunch of goofy stuff that a lot of these programmers came up with.
This low-budget little crime thriller actually turned out to be better than I thought it would be. Cagney-like Michael O'Shea plays a federal investigator who goes undercover to expose a crime ring that gets undeserving prisoners paroled in its care, resulting in a crime wave that's wracking the city. O'Shea is quite good as the feisty agent posing as a convict on the lam, and Turhan Bey is fine as a slick, villainous lawyer. The script by "B" veterans Sherman Lowe and Royal Cole is serviceable if predictable, and some of the supporting performances are weak, but little-known director Alfred Zeisler keeps things moving along, although a little raggedly. All in all, a pretty good example of the low-budget independent "B" thriller of the late '40s. Worth a watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This B-movie is about a scam where the parole board is releasing
undeserving candidates. An investigator decides to go undercover in
order to root out who is on the take as well as their confederates. So,
he poses as a real guy who had just recently escaped from prisonwhich
is great unless any of the crooks knew this escapee. You figure this
plan does not go perfectly, as the story is a flashback and
periodically the film returns to the presentand shows the undercover
man in a hospital bedcovered in bandages. This sure makes for an
anti-climactic film, as you know the guy will surviveno matter how
dangerous his position is late in the film.
Despite having a cast completely made up of unknowns and a very low budget, the film works reasonably well. As I said above, the suspense could have been a lot better had the story not been told as a flashback by the agent, but it's competently made, reasonably engaging and, at times, pretty exciting. While not a great film, it's a pretty good time-passer.
Lively actor O'Shea manages to give a lift to this otherwise routine
programmer. For some reason these 'undercover' crime films were popular
at the time, maybe because of the built-in suspense of being found out
by the gangsters. Anyhow, Hendricks (O'Shea) manages to infiltrate a
gang that sells paroles to imprisoned convicts. Heading up the gang, in
a twist, is the lovely Evelyn Ankers, otherwise known as the queen of
scream for her many horror movie roles. Making a belated appearance as
the gang's attorney is the sleekly swarthy Turhan Bey (Rodescu).
I'm not sure why the narrative is told in flashback from Hendricks' hospital bed. Maybe to assure audiences that whatever the dangers, he survives. I wish there were something especially noteworthy about this exercise. There may not be, but the movie's smoothly done, surprisingly so for tightly budgeted independent production (Orbit Productions). Okay as a harmless time passer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I, the jury, pardon all the usual suspects for this interesting expose
of an illegal parole racket where the narrative hooks you right away.
The sound of a man's voice closes in on the speaker who is revealed to
be the badly bruised Michael O'Shea, a federal investigator telling his
story of exposing the racket, headed by ruthless Turhan Hey and aided
by sassy same Evelyn Ankers, giving up her title as scream queen to go
down Ann Savage/Barbara Payton territory.
Smartly written, this exposes what is right about the parole system and what is definitely wrong with it. Starting off with the allegation that parolees are likely to commit more crimes when out, it uses that hook to make you mad enough to see what it has to say. As O'Shea is warned, he has a lot to watch out for, considering that his predecessors were either found filled with bullets, or not found period.
Ankers makes a fine vixen, pretending to get drunk on a date with O'Shea to find out who he really is, while Virginia Lee is quite good as the wife if a decent man paroled who pays for betraying the racket. Tight editing and fast pacing make this one of the better racket films that has enough elements of film noir to be lightly categorized in that genre.
Filmed by a Poverty Row studio with a largely unknown cast, augmented
by former Universal stalwarts Evelyn Ankers and Turhan Bey, PAROLE
INC., is a good example of a so-called "problem picture" designed to
draw attention to one of the iniquities blighting late Forties American
In this case it is the corrupt parole system whereby habitual criminals are let out of jail on the promise of reform and promptly resume their nefarious habits. This is chiefly due to a corrupt system headed by lawyer Barney Rodescu (Turhan Bey), who bribes two of the five- person Parole Board to vote in the prisoners' favor while trusting in the Board's ability to return positive verdicts.
Intrepid federal agent Hendricks (Michael O'Shea) volunteers to expose this racket by posing as a master criminal, infiltrating the racket at its lowest level and discovering how it works. He frequents The Pastime Club, a seedy joint run by Barney's fiancée Jojo (Ankers), and peopled by a clutch of hoodlums all in baggy suits and snap-brimmed hats. The rest of the story is predictable.
For an action thriller PAROLE INC. is remarkably static with too much time devoted to lengthy voice-overs from Hendricks as he tells what happened to a tape recorder from his hospital bed. The two nominal stars do what they can with the material: Bey looks immaculate in his tailored suits, but shows a tendency towards sadism, even though he assaults no one. He has a good line in dialogue delivery, describing one of his unfortunate minions as "a jackass," and vowing to get rid of any double-dealers daring to cross him.
On the whole, however, Alfred Zeisler's B-Movie is rather too moral for its own good, even though it dramatizes a scenario common to late Forties movies, suggesting that corruption is so rife in American institutions that no one knows how to separate friends from enemies.
I really didn't expect much from this film, I thought it would be a
cute film since Turhan Bey and Evelyn Ankers was in it but I never
thought it would be as serious and good of a film as it turned out to
Lyle Talbot is FBI agent Richard Hendricks- one of the Feds. He out to bust a parole ring. It's up to Hendricks alone to keep from getting caught as he is surrounded by a gang of criminals while trying to find out how they are doing it, which gang members are involved and which parole board members are involved.
The film actually engrossed me from the very start - there are a couple of cute moments as the film is in it's conclusion but it is a drama - a good crime drama.
Made in a perfunctory manner, to get the job done but not really to
shine. A fine plot that could have been a classic in the right hands
with the right budget is carried out competently enough, so "Parole,
Inc." kept me interested. Everything moves briskly along.
Talented actors including the charismatic Ms. Ankers go through their work with professionalism but don't have anything to work with character-wise. In fact, the big flaw here is total absence of character development. Who are these characters and what makes them tick- I guess we weren't meant to wonder such things.
Skilled acting and a good amount of plot-driven tension are adequate to carry this film despite lacking any depth or style, and with only average direction, editing etc.
Its OK but there are many better crime films of the era.
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