Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


CONVICTS AT LARGE (1938). Directors: Scott E. Beal; David Friedman.

"I'm gonna take electrocution lessons" -- a thug who wants to improve his speech. 

Thanks to the DVD video revolution and the joys of public domain, just about any old piece of crap can be resuscitated for the unwary film enthusiast. Convicts at Large is a case in point. ["Classic Collector's Series," indeed!] David Brent (Ralph Forbes) is an amiable dufus who has an idea to create "Happy Homes" for everyone -- all "scientifically-adapted" and the like. He has a crush on a pretty singer named Ruth (Paula Stone), whom he's never actually met. He's also mistaken for a jewel thief who just got out of prison and robs him of his clothing. Nevertheless he winds up at a roadhouse with a gang of thugs -- associates of the runaway thief -- and, of course, Ruth. Convicts at Large is presumably a comedy -- it certainly can't be called a dramatic film of any kind -- but it only has one laugh, the line quoted above this review. More often the humor is like this: "If she doesn't show up soon I'm gonna get my lawyer to habeas my corpus out of here." Oy vey! Stars Forbes and Stone have pleasing personalities, but not the dynamism to make something out of this turkey, but probably Peter Sellers, Danny Kaye, Jean Harlow and Red Skelton together couldn't have done much with the script. Forbes had a long list of both British and American credits; he was born in London and died in Brooklyn. Stone only did a few other movies; her singing and dancing in this are pretty mediocre.

Verdict: Less than an hour long but it seems like three. 1/2*.

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