Review: ‘The Criminal Code’

A prison picture but an excellent interpretation of the play of the same name [by Martin Flavin]. Howard Hawks' direction makes everything count, while Walter Huston here probably turns in his best modern characterization to date as a district attorney with a daughter who becomes warden of a prison. The love theme is taken care of by the girl and a young prisoner whom Huston has previously sent away for manslaughter while knowing a smart defense could have saved him.

A prison picture but an excellent interpretation of the play of the same name [by Martin Flavin]. Howard Hawks’ direction makes everything count, while Walter Huston here probably turns in his best modern characterization to date as a district attorney with a daughter who becomes warden of a prison. The love theme is taken care of by the girl and a young prisoner whom Huston has previously sent away for manslaughter while knowing a smart defense could have saved him.

The transposition from stage to screen has taken the proverbial liberties in dissolving the tragedy of the play into a happy ending.

Plenty of action all the way, in and out of the prison yard, with the performances of Huston. Phillips Holmes, and Boris Karloff always holding it together. Karloff is from the stage cast.

1930/31: Nomination: Best Adaptation

The Criminal Code

Production

Columbia. Director Howard Hawks; Producer Harry Cohn; Screenplay Seton I. Miller, Fred Niblo Jr; Camera Ted Tetzlaff, James Wong Howe; Editor Edward Curtiss;; Art Director [Edward Jewell]

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1931. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Walter Huston Phillips Holmes Constance Cummings Mary Doran DeWitt Jennings Boris Karloff
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