Get-Away The (1941)
Jeff Crane (Robert Sterling) is a tough guy who leads with his mouth and bluster. For committing a crime he’s shown being processed into a prison run by Warden Alcott (Henry O’Neill) and given a cell with another hard case Sonny Black (Dan Dailey). We’re then treated to several typical prison flick scenes (could be from The Big House (1930) also looks similar to the sets used in Brute Force (1947)) including a food complaint riot started by Crane who’s then put in the “hole” for 3 weeks. When he’s returned to his cell he’s earned a modicum of respect from his cell mate.
With help from the outside Crane helps Black breakout of prison. The two escaped cons travel to Chicago where they stay with Moose Jones (Ernest Whitman) a con they knew in prison that was just released. However when he gets “big eyes” over the reward being offered Black kills him. Crane & Black then travel to Wisconsin where Black has a home in a respectable neighborhood with a servant Sam (Chester Gan). We then learn that Crane is really an FBI agent undercover working for Jim Duff (Donald Douglas) assigned to freeing Black in order to bag the leader of his gang. Black was wounded in the escape and Crane must retrieve a doctor Black knows to help. Dr. Glass (Charles Winninger) is a stereotypical physician who helps criminals he’s got a drinking problem. En route to getting Glass Crane meets Maria Theresa ‘Terry’ O’Reilly (Donna Reed in her film debut!) who he reluctantly (what is he crazy?) helps. Crane Glass and O’Reilly are unavoidably delayed on their return and have to spend the night at Mrs. Higgins (Clara Blandick Auntie Em from The Wizard of Oz (1939)). Crane then learns that Terry is Black’s sister though she hasn’t seen him for 3 years and wasn’t aware of his criminal activities. Her nickname for her brother is Dinky.
After Black sends Crane to get Glass he summons his gang from their hideout at Rufe Parker’s (Grant Withers) and gives them instructions which distract the police for a while so that he can recover. Meanwhile Crane and Terry get closer to one another even though Duff warns Crane to keep his mind on the task at hand. When Crane returns from a meeting with Duff he witnesses Black striking his sister causing him to lose control and punch Black who ejects him from the house and his association. Crane and Terry end up riding on a bus back to town (with noted character actor George Guhl) while Black and the gang pull their next job. She returns home and Crane is fired. But Crane has an inspiration he uses Glass to help him find the hideout and alerts the FBI to its whereabouts. A shootout ensues and everyone in the gang is captured or killed except its leader Black who escapes.
Will the recognized hero Crane and the FBI figure out how to catch Black again? Will Crane be able to romantically pursue Terry now that she knows he’s with the FBI and is working against her brother? I’d expect a Hollywood ending if I were you;-)
Directed by Edward Buzzell and Richard Rosson uncredited. A remake of Public Hero #1 (1935) with a better known cast including Lionel Barrymore Jean Arthur Chester Morris Joseph Calleia and Lewis Stone. Also in this version though Roy Gordon plays a prison board member that figures in the escape Harry Hayden plays a train conductor Veda Ann Borg plays a girl Black dances with later in the film; all three appear uncredited.