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Back Door to Heaven (1939)

Approved | | Crime, Drama | 4 December 1939 (Sweden)
The life of a young slum kid, who starts out stealing small things in order to fit in with the "crowd", winds up in reform school, and eventually spends much of his life in prison. Upon his... See full summary »


William K. Howard


William K. Howard (story), John Bright (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jimmy Lydon ... Frankie Rogers
Anita Magee Anita Magee ... Carol Evans
Raymond Roe ... John Shelley
William Redfield ... Charley Smith
Kenneth LeRoy Kenneth LeRoy ... Bob Hale
David Johnson David Johnson ... Wallace Kishler
Kent Smith ... Attorney
William Harrigan ... Frankie's Father
Jane Seymour Jane Seymour ... Frankie's Mother
Aline MacMahon ... Miss Williams
Alfred Webster Alfred Webster ... Sheriff Kramer
Robert Vivian ... George Spelvin
Robert Wildhack Robert Wildhack ... Mr. Herzing
Hugh Cameron Hugh Cameron ... Warden
Wallace Ford ... Frankie Rogers


The life of a young slum kid, who starts out stealing small things in order to fit in with the "crowd", winds up in reform school, and eventually spends much of his life in prison. Upon his release, he finds that life on the outside can be just as hard as life on the inside. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

slum | See All (1) »


Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 December 1939 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Frankie See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The earliest documented telecast of this film in New York City occurred Thursday 10 July 1947 on Dumont's WABD (Channel 5); in the Los Angeles area its initial television presentation occurred Sunday 11 January 1948 on Dumont's KTLA (Channel 5); See more »


I Need a Friend
By Pierre Norman and Nick Kenny & Charles Kenny
Musical direction by Don Juielle
See more »

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User Reviews

A little bit schmaltzy but otherwise enjoyable.
5 September 2010 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This is a very, very sentimental B-movie--one that tries hard to tug at the heart. It begins many years earlier. There is a beloved school teacher (Aline MacMahon) and her class. One of the boys is a nice kid, but also has had numerous run-ins with the law--and as a result, he's sent to reform school. Years pass and the boy gets in trouble again and again. Now an adult with an extensive criminal history (Wallace Ford), he's been released from prison. While a criminal at heart, he still has a soft spot for this teacher and it's hard to see whether he'll go straight or return to a life of evil.

The film features a few other well-known actors in addition to those I already mentioned. Stu Erwin, oddly, is cast as a criminal associate of Ford--and it's odd, as neither seems cast well in the film since they both tended to play nice, easy-going sorts of guy in their other films. Additionally, Van Heflin plays a defense attorney in one of his earliest roles--and boy does he look young! Overall, the film is enjoyable but very high on schmaltz--a little too much if you ask me. It tries very, very hard by laying on a lot of sentiment and this will probably rub some wrong. But, despite this, the actors seem to try their best and the film is a decent time-passer. Not bad, but certainly not great. Dbburroughs certainly seemed to hate it and I can see why, though perhaps I am a tad more charitably disposed to this sort of overt sentimentality.

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