20 user 13 critic

You Can't Get Away with Murder (1939)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 20 May 1939 (USA)
Youthful tough Johnnie Stone has fallen under the influence of petty crook Frank Wilson, who involves him and robbery and murder using his sister's boyfriend's stolen gun.


Lewis Seiler


Robert Buckner (screen play), Don Ryan (screen play) | 3 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Humphrey Bogart ... Frank Wilson
Gale Page ... Madge Stone
Billy Halop ... Johnnie Stone
John Litel ... Attorney Carey
Henry Travers ... Pop
Harvey Stephens ... Fred Burke
Harold Huber ... Scappa
Joe Sawyer ... Red
Joe Downing Joe Downing ... Smitty
George E. Stone ... Toad
Joe King ... Principal Keeper (as Joseph King)
Joseph Crehan ... Warden
John Ridgely ... Gas Station Attendant
Herbert Rawlinson ... District Attorney


Johnnie learns crime from petty thug Frank Wilson. When Wilson kills a pawnbroker with a gun stolen from Johnnie's sister Madge's fiance Fred Burke, Fred goes to Sing Sing's death house. Wilson uses all the pressure can to keep Johnnie silent, even after he and Johnnie themselves wind up in the big house. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


AMERICA'S TWO-FISTER ANSWER to the Gun-Mad Rats Who Rule the Underworld! (Print Ad- Buffalo Courier-Express, ((Buffalo, NY)) 4 May 1939) See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Three actors listed in Studio records as being in this film were not seen in the movie. These were (with their character names): Nat Carr (Convict), Lane Chandler (Guard) and Joe Devlin (Prisoner). See more »


Though Johnnie and Frank were nabbed for the gas station hold-up because of finger prints, Fred's gun apparently was never dusted for prints which would have had prints of all three. See more »


Frank Wilson: Maybe this'll help you out. There's only two guys know who did the shootin' and one of them's dead, and the other one's gonna be if he don't keep his trap shut...
Frank Wilson: Good night, Johnny!
See more »


Referenced in Invisible Stripes (1939) See more »

User Reviews

Better than average gangster/prison film ala 1930's Warner Brothers
16 December 2009 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

Don't come to this film expecting that much Bogart or that much action, and you'll probably enjoy this 80 minute-long late 30's crime drama.

Billy Halop of the Dead End Kids is the real star of this film, made two years before Bogart became a true star at Warner Brothers, but this time Halop is minus the other Dead Enders. Here he plays John Stone, a kid from Hell's Kitchen who idolizes small-time gangster Frank Wilson (Humphrey Bogart). John is troubled because it has always been himself and his sister alone against the world, and now big sister is seriously dating cop Fred Burke (Harvey Stephens). John feels replaced by Burke and also resents the guy trying to be a substitute big brother to him.

Frank and Johnny pull off one gas station robbery without a hitch, giving Johnny a taste for more, but the second robbery does not go so well, with Frank killing a pawn shop owner. The problem is that the gun left at the scene was stolen from Burke, is easily traced back to him, and soon Burke is sitting in the death house for a crime committed by Frank and Johnny. In the meantime, Frank and Johnny are picked up and sent to prison for a short stretch (3 years) for their first robbery. In spite of his rough exterior Johnny really has a conscience, and it's working on overdrive with Burke sitting in the same prison as Johnny, except Burke is awaiting execution, not parole. Time is counting down to both Burke's execution and the end of Johnny's sanity. Frank has no problem having someone else fry for his crime, but he can see Johnny is cracking up and he has to come up with some way to keep the kid quiet.

Henry Travers has a supporting yet significant part as the prison librarian - Pop - in a role that seems to be a warm-up for playing Clarence in "It's a Wonderful Life". He plays probably the only true father figure Johnny has ever had. Eddie Rochester Anderson of Jack Benny Show fame lightens the film just a bit as an inmate who comes to the library each day just to read cookbooks aloud.

As for Bogart, he's at his nastiest here without a shred of humanity. As Pop says, "He's the kind of guy who's so crooked if he tried to go straight he'd crack".

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Release Date:

20 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chalked Out See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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