Castle on the Hudson (1940)
A remake of 20000 Years in Sing Sing (1932).
Directed by Anatole Litvak John Garfield plays Tommy Gordon a small time hood who is working his way to the top against the wishes of his girlfriend Kay Manners played by Ann Sheridan. When he forgets it’s his bad luck night (Saturday) and pulls a job anyway naturally he gets caught. Since Gordon’s lawyer (Jerome Cowan) has always been able to get him off easily in the past he’s a pretty cocky guy. However this time he gets sent to Sing Sing the “castle” and it takes some isolation treatment by the warden played by Pat O’Brien to get him to conform enough to be released into the prison population.
Kay visits him in prison and says she’s working with his lawyer to get him out. Gordon doesn’t trust his lawyer thinking he’s making a play for Kay and tells her to stay away from him. Gordon soon befriends a couple of cons played by Burgess Meredith the smart guy and Guinn “Big Boy” Williams a dumb lug and they all hatch a plan to escape. On the night of the escape Gordon realizes it’s Saturday night and refuses to leave his cell. Good thing too because the warden was tipped off and Meredith is killed in the attempt while Williams is sentenced to die because a guard was killed. When the warden realizes that Gordon didn’t try to escape he begins to trust him.
Later Gordon is summoned by the warden and told that Kay has been in an auto accident and isn’t expected to live. If Gordon will promise to come back the warden will let him go to see her. He promises to return even if it means the chair. As he’s leaving the warden’s office he notices that it’s Saturday but goes on anyway. On his way to see Kay Gordon picks up a tail from a policeman who can’t believe what he’s seeing. When Gordon gets to the bedridden Kay he learns that his lawyer was indeed moving in on her and was the cause of her injuries. He takes her gun and starts to leave to settle the matter when Kay convinces him not to and to give her the gun. About that time the lawyer shows up and the two men start fighting. When the lawyer appears to get the upper hand Kay shoots him. The policemen hears the shot and tries to force Kay’s apartment door. Gordon flees with the gun and the lawyers money.
*** SPOILERS ***
Gordon hooks up with his old gang and arranges for safe passage out of town on a boat. However upon reading the headlines and seeing that the warden will lose his position for letting him go he decides to return. Kay insists she shot the lawyer but nobody believes her and Gordon is sentenced to die. The ending of the film is very good with Williams having to face his fate before Garfield John Litel as the prison chaplain and a couple of more scenes with Sheridan and O’Brien as Gordon faces his fate.