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directed by  Howard W. Koch
USA 1959


I wouldn't go so far as to say that Mickey Rooney's the whole show in this movie but that wouldn't be far from the mark. This extremely violent 1959 remake of a 1932 film based on a Broadway play by John Wexley is directed in slam-bang style by Howard Koch, who does such a fine job it could just as easily be Don Siegel or Phil Karlson behind the camera. For fans of the prison genre this is a must see. It has it all.

The plot is basic stuff about doomed men in the big house, how they're treated by the guards, what motivates them, how the prison system works, as Hollywood sees it anyway. In style the film's similar to many period gangster films of its time. Rooney had already played Baby Face Nelson a couple of years earlier. He's in fine form here as a desperate inmate determined to break free. And he takes a lot of people with him in the stunning last half-hour of the film, in which the bullets are flying left and right.

Excerpt of review from telegonus at located HERE


Theatrical Release: 18 February 1959 (New York City)

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DVD Review: MGM (MGM Limited Edition Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:22:12

1.33:1 Open Matte format
Average Bitrate: 6.0 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: April 26th, 2012
Keep Case

Chapters 9



This is a remake of John Wexley's play of the same name, filmed previously in 1932 with Preston Foster in Mickey Rooney's role (it's available on DVD-R from Synergy Entertainment, a public domain release). Mickey Rooney gives one of his best performances that, unfortunately, was overlooked by the Academy to get a nomination.

A made-on-demand release from MGM features a decent progressive transfer that is, unfortunately, wrong aspect ratio. The open matte image has a lot of extra room on the top and the bottom and, clearly, the tighter shots would give much needed claustrophobic feeling for a prison drama. The sound is excellent with a great jazz score coming loud and clear. There are no extras, but still an excellent performance by the lead actor gets our recommendation for this release, if the price is right.

  - Gregory Meshman


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Region 0 - NTSC


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