13 user 3 critic

Public Hero Number 1 (1935)

Passed | | Crime, Drama | 31 May 1935 (USA)
A G-man goes undercover to infiltrate a gang, helping the group's leader escape from prison to gain his trust.


J. Walter Ruben


Wells Root (screen play), J. Walter Ruben (story) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Lionel Barrymore ... Doctor Josiah Glass
Jean Arthur ... Maria Theresa O'Reilly
Chester Morris ... Jeff Crane
Joseph Calleia ... Sonny Black
Paul Kelly ... James Duff
Lewis Stone ... Prison Warden
Paul Hurst ... Rufe Parker
George E. Stone ... Butch
Sam Baker Sam Baker ... Mose Jones


A G-man goes undercover to infiltrate a gang, helping the group's leader escape from prison to gain his trust.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

31 May 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

B.I.D.J. See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jean Arthur's long-time need to be primarily photographed from the left side is already quite evident in this film. See more »


After Crane and Black escape prison, the headline in the Herald Sentinel reads "Four States Report Convict Clews" which should read "Clues." Correction: Clew is an obsolete form of clue. See more »


Prison Warden: Crane, you were convicted of a hold up.
Jeff Crane: Sure! I stuck up a beer joint and got twelve bucks. Now, I'm buried alive for ten years. Ten years off my life for twelve dirty bucks! Is that fair?
Prison Warden: Yes. If your gun hadn't jammed you'd a killed a man for twelve dirty bucks. Was that fair?
See more »


Features The Big House (1930) See more »

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User Reviews

Great Performances
20 June 2008 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Public Hero #1 (1935)

*** (out of 4)

Extremely strange film from MGM starts off as a prison drama then moves to a screwball comedy and then goes back to gangster action. An undercover cop (Chester Morris) gets inside of a prison where he befriends a gangster (Joseph Calleia) and soon the two bust out but the gangster gets shot. Near death, the undercover cops goes out to find the gangster's drunken doctor (Lionel Barrymore) but due to a storm they are forced to stay at a hotel where the cop falls for a young woman (Jean Arthur) who turns out to be the gangster's sister. After hearing the news, the cop must try to find a way to bring the gangster down without hurting the sister. This film is pretty much all over the map but it's still a greatly entertaining film that works on ever level that it tries. The prison stuff early on is very entertaining as is the gangster stuff at the end. There's a big shootout at the end, which ranks among the best I've seen from any of these early gangster films. Normally screwball laughs wouldn't fit into a film like this but Barrymore does a terrific job in the comedy department as the drunken doctor. The highlight has to be the scene where he accidentally gets dressed in Arthur's robe due to how drunk he is. Barrymore's comic timing is terrific throughout the film. Arthur is also very strong in her role and delivers a very memorable character and performance. The real star is Morris who is simply wonderful all the way through. He has a lot of roles to play here from the tough guy trying to enter the gang to the cop trying to bring down the bad guy but he also does a great job in the romantic department with Arthur. Calleia, Paul Kelly, Lewis Stone and George E. Stone add nice support as well. It's also worth noting that the film seems partially influenced by the John Dillinger case who of course was murdered after watching MGM's Manhattan Melodrama the previous year and that includes the ending here, which has been slightly changed but still takes place outside a theater.

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