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Prison Break (1938)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 12 July 1938 (USA)
Joaquin Shannon arrives home from a cruise on his fishing boat. His first mate, Charles Nelson, is to marry Shannon's sister the next day. Nelson gets drunk and Shannon finds him near the ... See full summary »


Arthur Lubin


Norton S. Parker (screenplay), Dorothy Davenport (screenplay) (as Dorothy Reid) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Barton MacLane ... Joaquin Shannon
Glenda Farrell ... Jean Fenderson
Paul Hurst ... Soapy
Constance Moore ... Maria Shannon
Edward Pawley ... Joe Fenderson
Edmund MacDonald ... Chris Nelson
Ward Bond ... Big Red Kincaid
Guy Usher Guy Usher ... Warden
Victor Kilian ... Fenderson
Frank Darien Frank Darien ... Cappy
George Cleveland ... Ding
Johnny Russell ... Jackie (as John Russell)
Thomas Louden Thomas Louden ... The Priest
Paul Everton ... Judge at Joaquin's Trial


Joaquin Shannon arrives home from a cruise on his fishing boat. His first mate, Charles Nelson, is to marry Shannon's sister the next day. Nelson gets drunk and Shannon finds him near the unconscious body of a man that he, Shannon, had been fighting with previously. The man dies and Shannon takes the blame and goes to prison. There he gets into trouble instigated by "Big Red" Kincaid and is denied a parole. He stops a prison break and get a parole. Not able to get work, he takes a job with a former convict on a fishing boat. Kincaid, who has shot a guard and escaped and vowing vengeance on Shannon, shows up. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Thriller


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Release Date:

12 July 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Athoos sta katerga See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Trem Carr Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Referenced in The Player (1992) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Odd to see Barton MacLane and Glenda Farrell in a film that's not in the Torchy Blaine series!
14 September 2013 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

From 1937 through 1939, Barton MacLane and Glenda Farrell made seven Torchy Blaine films together--he as the police lieutenant and Farrell as Torchy, a crime-solving reporter. During this same period, the pair made this film at Universal, not at their usual Warner Brothers home.

While "Prison Break" is clearly a B-movie with a modest budget and cast, it is a dandy film--and a nice chance for MacLane to prove he was a very good actor and could play characters other than baddies and cops. It begins with Joaquin (MacLane) working on a tuna boat and planning on marrying his sweetie (Farrell). At the same time, his buddy is planning on marrying Joaquin's sister and all looks great. However, when a man is killed, Joaquin takes the blame in order to help this friend--and ends up in prison. Things get worse when the same guy (Ward Bond) committed the murder is soon admitted to the same prison--and he's aching for a fight with Joaquin. Although Joaquin cannot help it, this fight and future fights against this thug serve to increase his sentence and it looks like he'll never get out at this rate! What's to become of nice-guy Joaquin? See the picture and find out for yourself--as there is a lot more to this film.

The best thing about this film is MacLane--his acting was quite good. Additionally, while the story has some tough to believe coincidences, the film is enjoyable throughout. Plus, it has some reasonable criticisms of prisons and the parole system--ways that they might serve to make a guy who can be rehabilitated into a hardened criminal.

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