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The Criminal Code (1930)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 3 January 1931 (USA)
After a failed attempt at running for governor, D.A. Mark Brady is appointed warden of the state prison where many of the criminals he prosecuted are incarcerated.

Director:

Howard Hawks (uncredited)

Writers:

Martin Flavin (from the stage play by), Fred Niblo Jr. (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Walter Huston ... Mark Brady
Phillips Holmes ... Robert Graham
Constance Cummings ... Mary Brady
Boris Karloff ... Galloway
DeWitt Jennings ... Captain Gleason (as De Witt Jennings)
Mary Doran ... Gertrude Williams
Ethel Wales ... Katie Ryan
Clark Marshall ... Runch
Arthur Hoyt ... Leonard Nettleford
John St. Polis ... Dr. Rinewulf
Paul Porcasi ... Tony Spelvin (as Paul Porcassi)
Otto Hoffman ... Jim Fales
John Sheehan ... McManus
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Storyline

A wily D.A.(Brady) gets a 10 year conviction of a young 20 year old (Robert Graham)who he knows killed a man in self defense. Years later Brady becomes warden of the prison holding Graham. When Brady realizes that 6 years of working in the prison jute mill has pushed Graham to the breaking point, he gives him a chance- a new job as his valet. Graham responds well and earns the respect of both the warden and his beautiful daughter. Graham's mettle is put to the test when he stumbles onto a prison murder committed by his cell-mate. He must choose between the criminal code of silence and the warden's strong persuasion to reveal the killer. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

BIGGER THAN "THE BIG HOUSE" -And You Know How Big That Was! (Print Ad- Albany Evening News, ((Albany, NY)) 10 January 1931)

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 January 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Codice penale See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 2 October 1929 and closed in March 1930 after 173 performances. The opening night cast included Arthur Byron as Brady, Russell Hardie as Graham, Anita Kerry as Mary Brady, Burr Caruth, Ethel Griffies and Walter Kingsford. Galloway was played by Henry Crossen. See more »

Goofs

Robert calculates there are 52,560 hours in six years. However, he forgets leap years with their extra day. So, in a span of six years there would actually be 52,584 or 52,608 hours, depending on if that period included one or two leap years. See more »

Quotes

State's Attorney: Now, there was a killing out here over a week ago. So far there's been no inquest. Th-the coroner's done his duty. He's been out here three times. We've sworn in a jury, packed them out here in a bus, and had to pack them back again. Each time you've asked for a postponement. You wouldn't let us see this fellow Graham, and you refused to testify yourself. All we know about the case is what comes out in the newspapers.
Mark Brady: Yeah, and that's not much.
State's Attorney: Not much? A man's dead and somebody's got to pay!
Mark Brady: ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film's credits do not say that Howard Hawks directed the film; instead, they say that the film is "A Howard Hawks Production." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cinemassacre's Monster Madness: Targets (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Romance
(uncredited)
Music by Henry Geehl
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
"Somebody's Got To Pay"
8 October 2010 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In The Criminal Code the bywords of District Attorney Walter Huston is that where there is a crime, someone has to pay. Or if you can't do the time, don't do the crime as a later philosopher named Tony Baretta opined. And it's Huston's job to set the price when he prosecutes.

But Huston recognizes that young Phillips Holmes with a proper criminal defense attorney might do little time or even be acquitted. He smashed some poor guy's head in with a full bottle of bootleg hooch when he thought he was going for a gun. Still Holmes is convicted and he gets a ten year sentence.

Fast forward several years and Huston is no longer the District Attorney, he's now the warden of the prison that Holmes is incarcerated. Huston gives Holmes a chance and he makes him a trustee. Huston's daughter Constance Cummings even falls for Holmes.

But they have a different code among the convicts in prison and the biggest commandment is thou shalt not rat. When Boris Karloff does a particular rat in Holmes almost takes the fall for it because of that code.

The leads do a fine job in this, but the performances of Boris Karloff as the hardened convict and Clark Marshall as his victim really do stand out in The Criminal Code. Marshall especially, you can really feel his fear in his performance.

Beginning originally as a Broadway play, The Criminal Code was remade twice by Columbia Pictures, Harry Cohn not being one to let a good property go to waste. The two remakes are Penitentiary with Walter Connolly and John Howard and Convicted with Broderick Crawford and Glenn Ford.

The film holds up very well because the themes are eternal. Criminals have to pay the price when caught and rats are just as unpopular as ever.


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