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The Last Mile (1932)

Passed | | Crime, Drama | 17 August 1932 (USA)
An innocent man sentenced to death gets caught up in a prison riot.


Samuel Bischoff (as Sam Bischoff)


John Wexley (play), Seton I. Miller (screenplay)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Howard Phillips ... Richard 'Dick' Walters - Cell 5
Preston Foster ... John 'Killer' Mears - Cell 4
George E. Stone ... Joe Berg - Cell 1
Noel Madison ... D'Amoro - Cell 6
Alan Roscoe ... Kirby - Cell 7 (as Allan Roscoe)
Paul Fix ... Eddie Werner - Cell 8
Al Hill ... Fred Mayer - Cell 3
Daniel L. Haynes Daniel L. Haynes ... Sonny Jackson - Cell 2
Edward Van Sloan ... Rabbi
Louise Carter ... Mrs. Walters
Ralph Theodore Ralph Theodore ... Pat Callahan - Principal Keeper
Jack Kennedy Jack Kennedy ... Mike O'Flaherty - Guard
Albert J. Smith ... Drake - Guard
William Scott ... Peddie - Guard
Kenneth MacDonald ... Harris - Guard


Richard Walters is condemned to death for a murder he claims not to have committed. He arrives on death row just before a brutal inmate leads the other convicts in a violent uprising. Walters gets caught up in the riot, while on the outside his friends are trying to find evidence of his innocence. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

prison | melodrama | based on play | See All (3) »




Crime | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

17 August 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cadeira Elétrica See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (re-issue)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »


As Joe Berg is saying goodbye to "Killer" Mears, a moving shadow of the boom microphone is visible on the wall of Mears' cell. See more »


[first title card]
Title Card: "The Last Mile" is more than a story of prison and of the condemned. To me it is a story of those men within barred cells, crushed mentally, physically and spiritually between unrelenting forces of man-made laws and man-fixed death. And justly or unjustly found guilty, are they not the victims of man's imperfect conventions, upon which he has erected a social structure of doubtful security? What is society's responsibility for ever-increasing murders? What shall be done with ...
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Featured in Rush: A Show of Hands (1989) See more »


Ave Maria
Music by Franz Schubert
played under Warden's foreword
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User Reviews

Somewhat Predictable Death Row Drama
27 February 2018 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

The Last Mile, based on a popular John Wexley play of its time (1932), features an ensemble of death row inmates. Though the film does a good deal of effective characterization, we only really get to know two of the condemned - the innocent Dick Walters (Howard Phillips) and the "Killer" Mears (Preston Foster) - his neighbor in the cell block. The rest of the characters are archetypes of one kind or another, allowing the somewhat heavy-handed theatrical script some needed economy as the film builds quite slowly to a strong climax.

Mears stages a breakout and Walters has no choice but to get caught up in it, along with all of the other inmates. The warden, who has generally been, according to the prisoners, a decent guy, doesn't see that he has any choice about how to handle the situation.

The film is oddly introduced by a written introduction that makes a case against the death penalty based, apparently, on religious morality. With the exception of the juxtaposition of Killer Mears and our innocent protagonist Mr. Walters, it is not at all clear how this bit of moralism enhances the film nor how the film supports the political viewpoint of its author.

Theatrical scripts and sets do not always translate perfectly into film. The 1932 film of this play exemplifies the problem. Most of the camera work sticks to the point of view of a play's audience and the film mostly occurs in a very stark, statically shot prison block set. This effectively places the audience in the monotony of the prison experience throughout the film's action-less first half, but the effect only serves to accentuate the story's limitations so that, by the time the plot begins to accelerate, at least some of the audience has made up its mind about what will happen, how, and why. It is, however, worth sticking around to see how it does or doesn't play out.

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