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Although innocent, reporter Frank Ross is found guilty of murder and is sent to jail. While his friends at the newspaper try to find out who framed him, Frank gets hardened by prison life and his optimism turns into bitterness. He meets fellow-inmate Stacey and they decide to help each other.Written by
Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>
"Each Dawn I Die" is another of Warner Bros. excellent prison dramas notable mainly for the teaming of James Cagney and George Raft in the leads. It was capably directed by William Keighley.
Cagney plays crusading reporter Frank Ross who is trying to uncover political corruption. He witness key records being destroyed but before he can report what he has found he is framed by the gang for a drunk driving charge in which three people are killed. Ross is sentenced to 20 years but continues to proclaim his innocence.
On the way to prison he is handcuffed to hardened criminal Stacey (Raft) and the two soon become friends. In the prison Ross meets by the book Warden Armstrong (George Bancroft). He soon learns that the guards (John Wray, Willard Robertson) are brutal and treat the prisoners unfairly. Over time Ross realizes that his paper is not going to be able to help him. To make matters worse, the Chairman of the Parole Board (Victor Jory) turns out to be one of the people who framed him years earlier.
When Stacey's enemy Limpy Julien (Joe Downing) is murdered during a movie screening, Stacey is suspected of the crime even though he professes his innocence to Ross. However, Stacey sees this as an opportunity for escape. Because Ross has been square with him, Stacey offers to help Ross prove his innocence when he is on the outside in return for his help.
Stacey has Ross finger him as the murderer in order to force a trial during which he will escape. Unbeknownst to Stacey, Ross has contacted his newspaper whose reporters, including girlfriend Joyce Conover (Jane Bryan) show up and photograph and report Stacey's escape. The Warden finds this out and Ross is accused of aiding Stacey's escape and is sent to solitary.
Meanwhile Stacey believes that Ross has double crossed him and so has not tried to help him as he had promised. As Ross languishes in solitary, Joyce goes to Stacey to plead for his help. She tells him the truth and he finally relents and agrees to help.
Stacey's gang finds Shake Edwards (Abner Biberman) who had witnessed Ross' abduction and frame-up. Edwards fingers Polecat Carlisle (Alan Baxrer) as the culprit. However Stacey learns that Carlise is in the same prison as Ross. He then decides that the only way to get at him is to return to prison. He turns himself in and......................
Cagney and Raft play well together. Raft as the hard timer is excellent. He is the convict that everyone looks up to. Cagney's Ross is a little bewildered by it all and looks to Stacey for direction. Others in the cast include Maxie Rosenblum, Edward Pawley, Louis Jean Heydt and Stanley Ridges as various convicts and Emma Dunn as Ross' mother (another sympathetic mother character popular in many Cagney films).
The scene at the beginning of the film where Cagney is hiding in the rain is strangely reminiscent of one in "The Public Enemy" (1931).
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