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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


Approved | See all certifications »






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 »

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User Reviews

Tuna Fist salad with a side order of Stool Pigeon
5 October 2005 | by yonhopeSee all my reviews

Hi, Everyone, When a sailor goes to prison he makes waves. Barton MacLane is quite good in this 1930s tough guy who wants to marry a blonde, psycho-action drama.

The first thing we learn when our hero goes to the Big House is that prisoners in cells in the 1930s did not have toilets. There is a mixture here of stock footage of a real prison and a set on the sound stage that matches pretty well. In the 1930s it was somewhat taboo to show any plumbing fixtures other than the kitchen sink.

Ward Bond is a very good bad guy here. He looks a lot like Lee Marvin in many scenes. Ward made 21 movies in 1938 including this one. He would make 21 more in 1939 including Gone With The Wind. I doubt if anyone appeared in more great movies than Ward Bond did in his 57 years of life. He also worked in It's a Wonderful Life. He also did Maltese Falcon. Even with all his movie roles he is still best remembered as the wagon master on Wagon Train, a former number one TV series.

Barton Maclane made many wonderful movies including Unknown Island and Treasure of the Sierra Madre. He was the only guy in Treasure... who had a girlfriend.

Prison Break could be remade with more expensive sets and effects, but the story here is easy to follow. If you have a little imagination you can enjoy this one. Great cast, good music, good story and interesting examination of the effect of a prison record on someone's life. It also shows us how honorable some people can be when they want to protect a friend.

Tom Willett

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