After writing this month's post on TCM's September highlights, I suddenly remembered that I had previously recorded one of the movies I mentioned, CONDEMNED WOMEN (1938), so I enjoyed it today.
CONDEMNED WOMEN is a 77-minute RKO programmer directed by Lew Landers from a story and screenplay by Lionel Houser. It stars Landers regulars Sally Eilers and Anne Shirley, who look so much alike it's confusing at times. They should have been cast as sisters!
This is an interesting little movie with a lot going on. It starts out with young Jack Carson as a plainclothes officer escorting a group of women to prison via ferry. The women include lovely young Linda (Eilers), who is silent and bitter, and Millie (Shirley), who gazes with longing at her boyfriend (Richard Bond), who is riding on the boat to wish her farewell.
Linda meets a doctor (Louis Hayward) on the ship, and he saves her from jumping overboard. They later meet again when he takes a position as the doctor at the prison where she's serving time.
Goings-on at the prison include a typhoid epidemic, a prison breakout, and forbidden love between Linda and the doctor, so things are never dull! Not to mention moments which are unintentionally entertaining for the modern-day audience, such as the doctor and his assistant lighting up cigarettes in a hospital ward full of typhoid patients. Those were the days!
This is another fun one from director Landers' long list of "B" films for RKO and Columbia; this one was for RKO. Hayward and Shirley are the most sympathetic characters in the cast, although the poor doctor took leave of his senses in courting Linda, a violation of rules which only leads to a whole lot of trouble. Eilers plays the role a bit too perpetually glum and bitter, which somewhat dilutes audience interest in Linda.
The supporting cast includes Lee Patrick as a nasty inmate, Esther Dale as an equally nasty prison matron, and George Irving as the ineffectual warden. Dorothy Adams, Edythe Elliott, Netta Packer, and Paul Stanton are also in the cast.
The movie was filmed by the great Nicholas Musuraca, who shot so many of these kinds of films early in his career.
CONDEMNED WOMEN was shown on TCM in a C&C Television Corp. print. It will air on TCM again as part of a day of prison films on September 13, 2013.
Films directed by Lew Landers which have previously been reviewed at this site: NIGHT WAITRESS (1936), WITHOUT ORDERS (1936), FLIGHT FROM GLORY (1937), THEY WANTED TO MARRY (1937), THE MAN WHO FOUND HIMSELF (1937), DANGER PATROL (1937), BORDER CAFE (1937), DOUBLE DANGER (1938), CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938), SKY GIANT (1938), SMASHING THE RACKETS (1938), TWELVE CROWDED HOURS (1939), PACIFIC LINER (1939), CONSPIRACY (1939), STAND BY ALL NETWORKS (1942), ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE (1942), AFTER MIDNIGHT WITH BOSTON BLACKIE (1943), THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), DAVY CROCKETT, INDIAN SCOUT (1950), and MAN IN THE DARK (1952).