Fed up with the inhumane prison living conditions, a general prison riot breaks out, leading to hostage-taking, a stand-off with the guards and eventual negotiations with the prison administration officials.
The midnight murder of a rancher and his wife leaves circumstantial evidence pointing the finger of guilt toward a married couple, George Braden and his wife Ellen, who live and work on the ranch. George confesses to the killings in order to free his wife from hours of grilling by the police. Despite the best efforts of his defense attorney, Doug Madison , George gets the death penalty. Sunsequent events, and his sympathy for Ellen convince Doug that George is innocent, but he must find the real murderer to prove it. His manhunt leads to a former hired hand, Max Verne. With the help of the latter's greedy girlfriend, Gracie Sanger, Max is found and admits to the killings. But when a hearing is held, a psychiatrist pronounces him unsound of mind, but harmless, and the judge sets him free. After the Governor rejects Doug's pleas for an appeal for George, the townspeople turn against him, and his fiancée, Paula Mitchener), misconstrues his association with Ellen and breaks their ...Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Director of Photography John Alton agreed to do this movie, he asked Producer Benedict Bogeaus how much he had budgeted for rigging, the system of overhead pipes, brackets, ropes, and cables that suspends lights over a film set. Bogeaus told him four thousand dollars. "Give me two thousand dollars above my salary and I won't use any rigging", Alton said. He did it by using almost no overhead lighting at all, contributing to the film's rich visual atmosphere. See more »
The movie's an okay crime drama, but nothing more. There's some suspense near the end as lawyer Madison (Carey) gives exoneration one more try before his client Braden is executed. That manages some dramatic tension. Still, the opening hook may be the movie's best sequence as the mysterious intruder ends up shooting two old people while rifling a desk for money. It's effectively done in creepy shadow. The story's remainder, however, fails to rise above standard melodrama.
Fans of Wright will be disappointed, since her role is relatively small and overshadowed by two Monroe-like blondes. Speaking of blondes, Mara does a good imitation of Daisy Mae from Dogpatch, a backwoods caricature instead of a performance. I wish director Siegel had stepped in to prevent the disruptive effect. Of course, Elam's wild-eyed presence remains a big draw for many of us, and he doesn't disappoint. Get a load of his pants and shirt that look like rag-bin rejects. What a great character actor he was, and to think he was an A-grade studio accountant before turning thespian. Hard to figure him in a suit and tie after seeing his disheveled nut-case here.
Anyway, the movie was apparently shot in just nine days, which may account for its general lack of consistency, given the presence of virtuosos like Siegel and Alton. Had the movie been made several years earlier, I expect RKO would have come up with a noir. As things stand, however, the results are an adequate time passer but nothing more.
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