Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Millionaires in Prison (1940) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

I've enjoyed catching up on a number of Lee Tracy films in the last year or so, thanks in large part to Warner Archive DVDs.

The latest Tracy film I've watched is MILLIONAIRES IN PRISON (1940), a brand-new release from the Warner Archive.

Tracy plays a prison "fixer" named Nick Burton. He plans to live life on the up and up once he's released, along with his loyal girlfriend May (Virginia Vale, a favorite leading lady in George O'Brien Westerns).

When some millionaires (Raymond Walburn and Thurston Hall) and a doctor (Truman Bradley) arrive at the prison, Nick encourages the doctor to continue his research on a rare disease.

Nick ultimately pressures the imprisoned millionaires into backing cash payouts for prison volunteers to participate in a YELLOW JACK (1938) type of experiment of an anti-fever drug on humans.

Truth be told, this film is pretty tepid. Tracy doesn't appear until 15 minutes into this short 64-minute "B" film, which is pretty dull and rambling up to that point. The movie wakes up once he's on board, especially in its final quarter, and I always appreciate the chance to see Vale on screen, but all in all I found this a weaker "B."

The cast also includes Linda Hayes (mother of Cathy Lee Crosby) as the doctor's true love, plus Selmer Jackson, Thomas E. Jackson, Morgan Conway, Cliff Edward, Chester Clute, Grady Sutton, Shemp Howard, and Paul Guilfoyle, who sometimes seems to have been in every RKO "B" ever made!

The movie was directed by Ray McCarey (brother of Leo) and filmed by Harry J. Wild.

The Warner Archive DVD is a pretty good print, not super-sharp but without major scratches or defects. The soundtrack sounds fine. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDS and Blu-rays are sold.

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