Penitentiary (1938) Poster

(1938)

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decent remake of THE CRIMINAL CODE
Howard_B_Eale28 March 2008
Not as stylish or sharp as the Howard Hawks version, this very theatrical drama stars Walter Connolly as a D.A. who becomes a prison warden, and winds up overseeing the sentence of a man he prosecuted (a meek, repressed John Howard).

What it lacks in realism (it's amazing how many times the prisoners are allowed to use knives, for instance) it makes up for in tough dialogue; a sequence where Connolly tries as hard as he can to wear Howard down, using increasingly cruel language, is classic. Scarred-face Marc Lawrence isn't Boris Karloff, but he makes a strong heavy, nonetheless, and it's great to see Connolly in a serious role; he's perhaps best known as the long-suffering lawyer to John Barrymore's unstoppable ham actor in TWENTIETH CENTURY.
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