The Warden’s Daughter

» Off the Wall (1983, USA)

Off the Wall - Rico Santiago (Billy Hufsey)

I think I made a mistake in reading Roger Ebert’s review of this film (which is also known as ‘Snake Canyon Prison‘), before I watched it. As a result I was expecting something truly execrable – but it turned out to be merely unfunny, in the manner of most prison comedies. (more…)

Posted on December 28th, 2013 at 9:33 pm. Updated on December 28th, 2013 at 9:33 pm.

» For the Term of His Natural Life (1927, Australia / USA)

For the Term of His Natural Life - as Rufus Dwaes

Late in 1927 The Jazz Singer was released, becoming the first ‘talkie’ blockbuster – and condemning this silent epic to a much smaller audience than it perhaps deserved. It was a decidedly international co-production, with the director (Norman Dawn) and the principal actors all American, but the story a quintessentially Australian one.  (more…)

Posted on November 1st, 2012 at 7:42 pm. Updated on November 1st, 2012 at 7:52 pm.

» The Criminal Code (1931, USA)

The Criminal Code - an unravelling Bob Graham (Phillips Holmes) is assisted by Jim Fales (Otto Hoffman)

Martin Flavin’s 1929 stage play of the same name was made into a film four times, it seems: this one – and possibly an alternative Spanish version, El código penal – in 1931, Penitentiary (1938), and Convicted (1950). Not even The Longest Yard (1974) has had as many remakes, and one of those at least featured a change of football codes; all the Criminal Code productions are virtually scene-by-scene replications.


Posted on October 30th, 2012 at 10:10 am. Updated on April 9th, 2013 at 10:11 pm.

» The Weak and the Wicked (1954, UK)

The Weak and the Wicked - Glynis Johns as Jean Raymond

One presumes that potboiler title was designed to drag scandal-seeking customers through the theatre doors. My guess is that the story’s creator, Joan Henry, would have seen only irony in it. (more…)

Posted on August 16th, 2011 at 10:13 pm. Updated on August 16th, 2011 at 10:20 pm.

» Within These Walls (1945, USA)

Within These Walls - Thomas Mitchell as Warden Michael Howland

How many versions of the one film do you need? Within These Walls borrows very heavily from The Criminal Code (1931) and Penitentiary (1938), films that were to be remade a second time in Convicted (1950). Maybe it was an austerity measure imposed during the war: re-use old scripts rather th waste munitions money on new ones. The best that can be said of this apparent lack of imagination is that at least this offshoot has a slightly divergent plot line. (more…)

Posted on July 17th, 2011 at 7:55 pm. Updated on July 9th, 2020 at 4:01 pm.

» Mean Dog Blues (1978, USA)

Mean Dog Blues - George Kennedy as Capt Omar Kinsman, with Rattler

Paul Ramsey (Gregg Henry) is happily married, blonde (a bit too blonde), and of gentle disposition. The same can be said of neither Captain Omar Kinsman (George Kennedy) or his beloved Doberman Pinscher, Rattler. You know that it will be messy when all three inevitably tangle. (more…)

Posted on December 28th, 2010 at 9:12 pm. Updated on January 27th, 2013 at 12:35 pm.

» Penitentiary (1938, USA)

Penitentiary - Warden Tom Mathews (Walter Connolly) and William Jordan (John Howard)

This remake of The Criminal Code (1931) and precursor to Convicted (1950) is a solid story, well told… notwithstanding that if John Howard’s performance as the young prisoner William Jordan were any more wooden, it would be a tree. (more…)

Posted on June 14th, 2010 at 12:48 pm. Updated on June 14th, 2010 at 12:48 pm.

» Up the River (1930, USA)

Up the River - Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy

Up the River is a low-key comedy drama starring Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy very early in their careers. An early talkie directed by John Ford, it was apparently going to be a drama until The Big House (1930) beat it to the punch.. so it was rewritten as a comedy. (more…)

Posted on May 22nd, 2010 at 5:24 pm. Updated on June 21st, 2012 at 8:52 pm.

» Convict 13 (1921, USA)

Convict 13 -

Not only is this Buster Keaton offering funnier than many more recent prison comedies (including the various Laurel and Hardy prison movies that followed soon after), it has the advantage of only having to sustain itself for 20 minutes… so there is little time for any audience to get restless. (more…)

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 11:18 pm. Updated on May 6th, 2010 at 11:18 pm.

» Three Smart Saps (1942, USA)

Three Smart Saps - Larry, Moe, Warden Stevens and Curly

A trap for young players: Synopses of this movie invariably have The Three Stooges ‘going undercover’ in a jail to prove the innocence of their three fiancées’ father, Warden Stevens, who has been framed and finds himself a guest of his own establishment. Well, yes, they do go undercover, but as  nightclub patrons and not, as one might reasonably expect, as prisoners or even guards. Oh, well… (more…)

Posted on December 25th, 2009 at 10:41 pm. Updated on December 25th, 2009 at 10:41 pm.