Tuesday, May 10, 2016


This movie has a misleading title: there is a jailbreak in the last few minutes, but it's really a B-mystery set mostly in a prison. Mike Eagan is a former gangster gone legit, but he keeps getting leaned on by old crony Ed Slayden. Now Slayden is in trouble; in the course of stealing a truckload of furs, he kills a guard and is on the run. He wants Eagan to give him money to get out of town and to help hide the furs, but Eagan refuses. Slayden gives him 24 hours to change his mind. Eagan's secretary, Jane Rogers, is worried that Eagan might wind up dead, but Eagan decides to solve his dilemma his own way: he goes out and punches a cop in the face, leading to an arrest and what he assumes will be a safe 30 days in jail where Slayden can't touch him. But because of Eagan's record, the judge sentences him to two years. In the meantime, Slayden is caught and thrown in jail, the same jail where Eagan resides. And even though the warden knows about the bad blood between the two, Slayden winds up right across the aisle from Eagan. On the morning of Eagan's early release on parole, he is found shot to death in his cell. Slayden seems too obvious a suspect; could it be the prison guard who hated Eagan because of his role in his son's death years ago? Soon, the investigators discover that Eagan had let it slip that he had a lot of money stashed away—could someone who overheard him have decided to try and get the money for himself?

This is a passable B-film with a couple of flaws that stop it from being truly good. You will notice that in my summary, there is no cop, detective or hero mentioned. There actually is a cop, top-billed Barton MacLane, but he has little to do except be flummoxed and rely on the real hero, a reporter named Ken, played by Craig Reynolds. The handsome and charismatic Reynolds is always an asset to a B-film, but, like MacLane, he is ill-used here, popping in and out of the story and getting very few scenes in which he can shine. In terms of screen time and narrative, the real stars are Joe King as Eagan—he's very good in a fairly colorless role—and Dick Purcell as Slayden. June Travis (picured with Reynolds) is competent as Eagan's secretary (and mild love interest for Ken) and I liked seeing the familiar supporting faces of George E. Stone as a thug and Mary Treen as a fast-talking reporter. Interesting but needs a stronger script. Best line, spoken by someone holding a gun: "If you pick up that phone, you’re dialing the undertaker!" [TCM]

No comments: