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I Can't Escape (1934)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  5 July 1934 (USA)
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An ex-convict, unable to get a good job because of his prison record, gets mixed up in a phony stock scam.



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Title: I Can't Escape (1934)

I Can't Escape (1934) on IMDb 6/10

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Complete credited cast:
Onslow Stevens ...
Steve Nichols, alias Steve Cummings
Mae Nichols
William Desmond ...
Parole Officer Donovan
Hooper Atchley ...
Otis Harlan ...
Jim Bonn
Kane Richmond ...
Bob, college boy at club
Mrs. Wilson
Eddie Gribbon ...
Regan - Beat Cop
Nat Carr ...
Mr. Watson, clothier
Richard Cramer ...
Joe, bartender-pimp


An ex-convict, unable to get a good job because of his prison record, gets mixed up in a phony stock scam.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ex convict | stock fraud | See All (2) »


Crime | Drama





Release Date:

5 July 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Magic Vault  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV) (edited)

Sound Mix:

(Cineglow System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Re-titled, and edited down to less than thirty minutes, it was sold to television in the early 1950's as part of a syndicated half hour mystery show. See more »

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User Reviews

Onslow Stevens is Terrific - As Usual!!
8 July 2014 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

This film treads a very fine line as far as the production code goes. The code became enforced on the 13th June, 1934 with the provision being that any film released after 1st July had to follow a strict code of conduct - so there would be no more "Baby Face", "Millie" - even "Betty Boop" had to cover up!!! Maybe the fact that it was released by obscure Beacon Pictures may have been the reason it sneaked through on the 5th of July. By 1934 films were starting to look to wholesomeness and family values - Lila Lee's earlier film was "Stand Up and Cheer" featuring a future star who would lead the purity parade - Shirley Temple!! But in "I Can't Escape" Lila played a prostitute! In fact it is obvious in this film that she and Steve are living together and when he first goes back to her flat he tries to give her money and she says something like "another time, when I've earned it" - a shocking plot line even for the early thirties!

Things have changed since Steve Nichols (Onslow Stevens) has been "inside" - for one thing liquor is now legal and when "good time girl" Mae (Lila Lee) is sent to his table by mistake he realises that even free people have their own prisons. This is a compelling look at how hard it was in the depths of the depression to go straight - once you had a prison record. As one hirer says "It's hard enough to place men with references"!! Of course everything is tidied up in under an hour, still it was a brave effort by a little poverty row studio to attempt to highlight an unsung problem.

References are something that all the money in the world won't buy for Steve. He and Mae have decided to make a go of it together and after much wearing out of shoe leather, he finally scores the demeaning job of a billboard man. Just as he is about to give up hope he is suddenly employed by a pair of investment brokers - they know of his past but they are planning their own "dirty deed" and need an unsuspecting fall guy - exactly what he was in prison for in the first place!! He foolishly doesn't question their willingness to employ him - he just knows he has been given a rare chance to make good!!

The same night, a young man, Thomas Martin, arrives on their doorstep: he is looking for Steve Nichols (who he has never seen) the man he feels is responsible for his father's death by selling him phoney stock. Steve, who does feel responsible - even though he was just as much in the dark, wants to keep Tom at the flat so his new job isn't jeopardized. The crunch is soon coming - the shonky investors have found a grieving widow (Clara Kimball Young) and want Steve to convince her to invest her life savings in the firm - the crooks can then collect and leave Steve to face the police alone.

Back on the home front, Mae is fighting off the love struck kid's advances but does she make the ultimate sacrifice to see that Steve has a free hand to chase down the baddies before they board the plane?

Onslow Stevens is great as usual - with his rugged handsomeness and beautiful smooth speaking voice he had the goods to be a threat to Clark Gable - just maybe not the charisma. Charles King's name is on the credits but I can't find him in the movie as all the actors are accounted for, right down to old silent favourite Willam Desmond as the kindly parole officer.

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