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Two prisoners, Saint Louis and Dannemora Dan, escape during a theatrical production in order to go to the aid of Steve, a former prisoner whose past is about to be exposed by the man who framed Judy unless Steve agrees to help him commit another crime.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
This is the only movie in which Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy co-star. Although Tracy and Bogart were good friends, they never appeared in another movie together, as Bogart was tied to a contract with Warner Bros. for much of his career while Tracy was bound first to Fox, and then (most famously) to MGM. When the freelance era rolled around in the 1950s and both were free of their studio contracts, the two talked about co-starring together in a picture, but according to Tracy's lover Katharine Hepburn, they could never agree on who would get top billing (although Tracy was the more respected thespian, Bogart was more popular at the box office; however, after playing second-fiddle to Clark Gable for many years at MGM, Tracy wasn't about to accept second billing at that time in his career). Hepburn recalled they considered a suggested compromise that would have created an "X"-shaped credit in which Humphrey Tracy would have co-starred with Spencer Bogart, when read normally. See more »
Well, I ain't gonna go through with it, I tell you.
Now, listen. I never break my word, and I gave my word to Judy - and we're goin' to New England, and we're goin' tonight!
I can't go to New England, not tonight. I'm in the finale.
Oh, St. Louis! What's the use?
Say, if you don't do like I tell yuh, it's gonna be your finale!
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John Ford's prison comedy has been forgotten in the director's filmography and what limited knowledge people have about it is more with its stars. Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart made their first big splash on the big screen here and this would be the only film they'd do together. In the film, Bogart falls in love with a female prisoner (Claire Luce) and they plan to get married once she gets paroled but a man from her past comes after Bogart once he's released from jail. Needing help, two buddies (Tracy, Warren Hymer) escape from prison and go after the man. There's also a subplot dealing with a big baseball game between two prisons but this doesn't get too much attention. I was left pretty disappointed with this film because Ford's direction really doesn't bring too much life to the screenplay, which, to the director's credit, is all over the place. It starts off as a comedy but then we switch gears to a rather strange drama. Some of this might be due to Ford having the screenplay rewritten after MGM's The Big House stole some of his ideas. The final thirty minutes drag by pretty badly as this is the same time that the laughs stop. There's some funny stuff early on including one scene where the men are getting ready for bed, four to a cell, and they realize they only have three pillows. Tracy's film debut is a very good one and I was shocked to see that Tracy personality on full display at such an early time in his career. That street tough attitude mixed with his cocky side comes off very well here. I was also shocked at Bogart who certainly isn't playing what we'd come to see in the future. Here he's constantly smiling, getting pushed around and I guess you'd say he plays a real dork. He's actually very good here, which shocked me since some of his pre-fame roles feature him looking pretty silly. From what I read, Bogart and Ford hated one another after Bogart called the director "Jack" so this was sadly the only film they made together. The Fox DVD of this is in incredibly bad shape with some jumps in the print and cuts in the soundtrack.
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