Movie Mirrors Index

You Can't Get Away With Murder

(1939 b 79')

En: 5 Ed: 5

 

Based on a play by Warden Lewis Lawes and Jonathan Finn, a young man is intimidated by a criminal not to clear his sister's fiancé.

Fred Burke (Harvey Stephens) tells Madge Stone (Gale Page) he is getting a better job. In a car Frank Wilson (Humphrey Bogart) tells young Johnny Stone (Billy Halop) he is smart and with a gun robs a gas station. A cop chases them, but they hide. In a pool room Fred tells Johnny to go home. Fred tells Madge they and Johnny are going to Boston. Johnny joins Frank with Fred's gun for a robbery. Fred takes the gun and kills a man who pulls the alarm. Johnny learns that Frank left Fred's gun, but Frank threatens him to make him stick to him. Madge tells Johnny she is marrying Fred, who got a job for him. Police arrest Frank and Johnny for the gas station robbery.

Madge visits Johnny at prison and says Fred was convicted; she asks him who took Fred's gun. Fred arrives in prison, and Frank intimidates Johnny, hitting him. The Warden (Joseph Crehan) separates them, and Johnny works in the library with Pop (Henry Travers). Johnny tells Pop that Fred didn't do it. Scappa (Harold Huber) tells Johnny to meet Frank. Red (Joe Sawyer) hands Johnny a sweater for Pop. Johnny learns that Fred's appeal was denied. Johnny is called to the death house and sees Madge and Fred. Fred's lawyer Carey (John Litel) questions Johnny about Frank and Fred's gun. Carey says Johnny stole the gun, planted the jewelry, and did the murder; but his appeal fails. Johnny tells Madge he won't go to the chair. Scappa tells Frank he has three guns and suggests they get Johnny, who tells Frank he didn't talk.

Madge visits Fred on his last night. Johnny fights the guy who lost a bet on Fred's case; but Pop restrains him and makes peace. Frank gets Johnny not to give Pop medicine. Frank, Scappa, and Johnny prepare for the break. Pop urges Johnny to do the right thing, not follow Frank. Red learns he got ten more years. Johnny writes his confession to Pop and puts it in his cell; but Frank sees and removes it. Red tells Scappa he is going. They knock out a guard and use a rope for Red to climb the wall; but they are seen and shot at. Frank shows Johnny the letter and shoots him. Frank gives up and says guards shot Johnny; but dying Johnny tells the Warden that Frank shot him and that Fred is innocent because he took the gun and gave it to Frank. In the final scene Johnny sees Madge and Fred and thanks Pop before dying.

In this moral drama a youth is under the influence of a man he has admired for years but who has led him down the dead-end road of crime and violence. His sister and the wise Pop help to awaken the conscience of the struggling youth even though it goes against his self-interest.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index