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Prison Train (1938)

Passed | | Crime, Drama | 17 October 1938 (USA)
Frankie Terris and Mannie Robbins are the two most powerful gangsters in their city. Frankie has a young sister, Louise, whom he has kept at a boarding school away from the stench of his ... See full summary »



(story), (screenplay)

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Cast overview:
Louise Terris (as Linda Winters)
Faith Bacon ...
Alexander Leftwich ...
Joe Robbins (as James Blakely)
John Pearson ...
Val Stanton ...
Peter Potter ...
Bill Adams
The Lawyer


Frankie Terris and Mannie Robbins are the two most powerful gangsters in their city. Frankie has a young sister, Louise, whom he has kept at a boarding school away from the stench of his racketeering. Mannie's young son, Joe, is also ignorant of his father's profession. Louise and Joe meet, and Joe tries to make love to her. Frankie interrupts and, in a fight that follows, kills Joe. Mannie vows to get Frankie. The latter, sentenced to Alcatraz, fears for Louise's safety and makes her promise to take a trip abroad. Louise learns that Mannie plans to shoot Frankie on the train taking him to prison, and she stows away in hopes of warning her brother. On the train, she falls into the protective arms of Federal Agent Bill Adams. Before she has a chance to warn Frankie, Mannie's henchmen go to work and a gangland shootout ensues. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"Alcatraz is too good for him - I'll blast him to hell where he belongs" (original poster)


Crime | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 October 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

People's Enemy  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was the only film appearance of famous fan dancer and Burlesque performer Faith Bacon who plays Maxine. She took her own life in 1956 at the age of forty-six. See more »


Referenced in Citizen Kane (1941) See more »


Husker du vor skoletid
Music by Walter Kollo
Lyrics by Axel Kjerulf and Aage Juhl Thomsen
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User Reviews

Some Interesting Touches
17 September 2013 | by See all my reviews

Convicted of murdering a competitor's son, a gangster is sent away on a prison train. Meanwhile, his sister tries to warn him of a plot aboard the train to kill him.

For the gangster obsessed 1930's, the story is suspenseful but basically routine. Nevertheless, this low-budget production does have several notable features. For one, there's the movie's visual flair. Director Wiles was an art director before climbing into the big chair, so his often exotic camera angles and lurid lighting are unusual for a low budget production. At the same time, his artistic ambitions are on more elaborate display in 1947's The Gangster with Barry Sullivan. Too bad that he died so young and that IMDb doesn't have more info on this interesting moviemaker.

Also, the movie's notable for Dorothy Comingore's presence. I wouldn't be surprised if Orson Welles caught her in this programmer before casting her in his classic Citizen Kane (1941). Here she projects a unique loveliness and sweet vulnerability that's almost touching and quite a distance from her near shrewish role in Kane. Then too, there's Clarence Muse as a waiter and a long way from the buffoonish roles generally assigned black performers in those days. Plus, he even turns out to be a treacherous bad guy. Note too, that lead actor Fred Keating's name doesn't appear on the movie's poster. Granted, he's pretty obscure among the Hollywood crowd, but he does a good job here as head gangster Frankie Terris.

I guess my only complaint is Nestor Paiva who does go way over the top, even for this exotic flick, as the needling Morose. All in all, the story may be unexceptional, but there remain unusual aspects that make the production worth catching up with.

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