If this is a satire of The Big House (1930), I’m afraid the satirical bits largely passed me by. Other than perhaps poking fun at an arsenal of weapons that suddenly appears in the hands of the prisoners in the final few scenes, I’m not sure that I saw much of a connection between these two prison-movie heavyweights. This was Laurel and Hardy’s first full length talking movie, and the first movie-length talkie prison comedy, by my reckoning. And better than their shorter silent prison films by quite a margin. (more…)
Posted on December 19th, 2009 at 9:50 pm. Updated on December 27th, 2009 at 8:38 pm.
This is a remake of The Criminal Code (1931) and Penitentiary (1938). Publicity at the time of its release proclaimed that it’s about ‘a convict’s love for a Warden’s daughter.’ It is that, but it’s much more about the criminal code and where a prisoner’s loyalties lie. And it does of pretty good job of it, too. (more…)
Posted on December 12th, 2009 at 7:46 pm. Updated on October 19th, 2013 at 6:06 pm.
Comedy duo Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey made more than 20 feature films together from 1929 to 1937. Like Laurel & Hardy and The Three Stooges (and the execrable Ernest in more recent times), it was inevitable, I suppose, that at some stage they would set one in a prison. But when one of the early critical scenes in Hold ‘Em Jail involves them being left completely alone in the Warden’s office for quite some time - until they are joined by the Warden’s daughter and sister for some serious flirting - you know that its heart is perhaps not in the prison at all. (more…)
Posted on November 28th, 2009 at 11:12 pm. Updated on December 11th, 2009 at 8:57 pm.
“This is Frankie Stossel. A child of God. Was he born to be bad?” the narrator asks in the movie’s opening scene as a newborn baby is smacked into life. Unfortunately there’s no-one around to give this lame 60s morality play a similar kick start. (more…)
Posted on October 24th, 2009 at 4:35 pm. Updated on December 11th, 2009 at 8:58 pm.
I remember reading Borstal Boy as a young teenager and being completely captivated by its bawdy, rollicking style and the irreverence and passion of its author, Brendan Behan. That memory makes this lukewarm adaptation of his autobiography so much more disappointing. Behan was larger than life, and this reduces him to something akin to a minor rebel in a coming-of-age story at an English boarding school. Or perhaps I’m getting the character in the book mixed up with the boozy, ribald celebrity that he was to become before drinking himself to death at 41. (more…)
Posted on May 16th, 2009 at 6:29 pm. Updated on December 11th, 2009 at 9:00 pm.