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20 user 16 critic

The Criminal Code (1930)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 3 January 1931 (USA)
After a failed attempt at running for governor, D.A. Mark Brady is appointed warden of the state prison where many of the criminals he prosecuted are incarcerated.

Director:

Howard Hawks (uncredited)

Writers:

Martin Flavin (from the stage play by), Fred Niblo Jr. (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Walter Huston ... Mark Brady
Phillips Holmes ... Robert Graham
Constance Cummings ... Mary Brady
Boris Karloff ... Galloway
DeWitt Jennings ... Captain Gleason (as De Witt Jennings)
Mary Doran ... Gertrude Williams
Ethel Wales ... Katie Ryan
Clark Marshall ... Runch
Arthur Hoyt ... Leonard Nettleford
John St. Polis ... Dr. Rinewulf
Paul Porcasi ... Tony Spelvin (as Paul Porcassi)
Otto Hoffman ... Jim Fales
John Sheehan ... McManus
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Storyline

A wily D.A.(Brady) gets a 10 year conviction of a young 20 year old (Robert Graham)who he knows killed a man in self defense. Years later Brady becomes warden of the prison holding Graham. When Brady realizes that 6 years of working in the prison jute mill has pushed Graham to the breaking point, he gives him a chance- a new job as his valet. Graham responds well and earns the respect of both the warden and his beautiful daughter. Graham's mettle is put to the test when he stumbles onto a prison murder committed by his cell-mate. He must choose between the criminal code of silence and the warden's strong persuasion to reveal the killer. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

BIGGER THAN "THE BIG HOUSE" -And You Know How Big That Was! (Print Ad- Albany Evening News, ((Albany, NY)) 10 January 1931)

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 January 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Codice penale See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Movie debut of Constance Cummings. See more »

Goofs

Robert calculates there are 52,560 hours in six years. However, he forgets leap years with their extra day. So, in a span of six years there would actually be 52,584 or 52,608 hours, depending on if that period included one or two leap years. See more »

Quotes

Mark Brady: [to Graham] Tough luck, Bob, but that's the way they break sometimes. You got to take them the way they fall.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film's credits do not say that Howard Hawks directed the film; instead, they say that the film is "A Howard Hawks Production." See more »

Connections

Featured in The Whole Town's Talking (1935) See more »

Soundtracks

Cryptic Shadows (Agitato Mysterioso)
(uncredited)
Music by Giuseppe Becce
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Huston and Karloff Make The Film
30 April 2010 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Criminal Code, The (1931)

*** (out of 4)

Terrific acting highlights this pre-code prison-drama about an overbearing D.A. (Walter Huston) who sidelines an innocent man (Phillips Holmes) into prison where he learns the "criminal code" way of doing things. The D.A. eventually becomes the prison warden where he runs into contact with many of the men he sent away including the innocent one who will once again find himself at the wrong place during the wrong time. There's no question this Columbia film was made to cash in on the previous years THE BIG HOUSE but that doesn't mean we get a watered-down copy. Instead director Hawks takes a pretty simple storyline and adds various dimensions simply by showing the stuff in a raw and realistic detail. THE BIG HOUSE is certainly a classic but to me this is the better film of the two. What makes this film work so well are some amazing performances with Huston leading the way. There was no one in Hollywood better for a role like this and God knows that Huston played his fair share of hot-tempered, "my way only" type of characters. He brings a lot of energy to the role and manages to make the character very memorable with a performance that many would copy in the future. Another major plus is the supporting performance of Boris Karloff who pretty much steals the film. Karloff has an uncanny and natural performance that brings a certain rawness as well as a coldness that is a real joy to watch. He's the type of bad guy here you just want to love. Constance Cummings plays Huston's daughter and she's pretty good even though the screenplay offers her very little except to be a love interest for Holmes. As for Holmes, I think he gives a good performance but I'd say he's several notches below both Huston and Karloff. Again, it's a fine performance but at the same time if they had someone on the same level as the other two men the film might have been even better. Hawks makes the film as realistic and as raw as he can, which I guess you could say was a trademark during this early portion of his career. I think the film gets off to a somewhat slow start but picks up at the twenty-minute mark and pretty much sails home. The final thirty-minutes are pure Hawks magic and are the most powerful of these early prison films.


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