Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Top Billed Actors: Chester Morris, Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone
IMDb Rating: 7.2
*Best Picture Nominee*
Won 2 Oscars:
Best Writing - Frances Marion
Best Sound - Douglas Shearer
Nominated for 2 more:
Best Actor - Wallace Beery
Plot: A coward double crosses his cellmate and in turn, the cellmate dates his sister before everybody shoots each other.
The writing of the film is what sets it apart from the other nominees during the third Awards. A well deserved Writing Oscar went to Marion due to her collection of original characters and phenomenal pacing throughout the film. Although I didn't care for the outdated acting, I saw through that and sympathized for multiple characters, especially Chester Morris. The way the characters interacted in the prison courtyard set up many suspenseful moments throughout the story. The story is structured very well. Prison life is exhibited when it needs to be and plot development occurs when it needs to be. There was always a feeling of what happens next?
Unfortunately, Marion's writing couldn't save the film from its downsides. Like I mentioned when I praised the dynamic characters, the acting is sorely outdated. Watching these films from the late 1920s and early 1930s has made me used to it, but it still is a hurdle for a modern viewer. The lack of a musical score is still an issue as well. Too much silence can ruin pivotal scenes. I also had an issue with how Morris' character and his cellmate's sister got together. It all happened too fast and didn't make much sense.
Overall, George W. Hill contributes a solid piece that was worthy of the Best Picture nomination. Marion's writing keeps the plot moving forward and the viewer firmly understands the motives and actions of each character.
My Score: 7/10