Cinematography by Leon Shamroy. "Desire" list. The amazing Sidney, that reminds Gaynor in the hands of Murnau and Borzage - her permanent affective availability. Alongside Fonda, again crystalline of so much justice and honesty, an unblemished romantic figure of the classic cinema, voice and face that matches so clearly.
Bleak movie about justice. "I'll do it again" says Sylvia Sidney to Henry Fonda just before dying. According to Imdb, 14 minutes of the film were cut by the Production Code Administration. Bleak, very bleak. Highly recommended.
The Hayes Code demanded that the "bad guy" gets punished but it is really society that is being condemned here. America imprisons more people per capita than any country in the Western World. We spend more $$$$$ imprisoning and killing people than we do making sure that every one has a fair chance in life. The system was rotten in 1937, and 80 years later it's even worse.
"Fine world. First, they kill the chicken, Taylor eats the chicken. Then, they kill Taylor."
"Tell him they took all the cash. They robbed the cash register too."
Nice cinematography, early Bonnie & Clyde plot but that's all because of the Hollywood studio system. Not Lang's fault. 3/5
3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Fritz Lang's direction really stands out here, namely during the prison sequence and Eddie's escape. Sylvia Sidney was a goddamn doll and Henry Fonda wasn't bad. Unfortunately the viscous melodrama reminded me why I'm not too fond of movies from the 30s and the story wasn't smoothed out very well. I don't think its as good as everyone else does but its not bad either.
Second star for having a social conscience. Only Hollywood could be so dumb and conceited to screw up a Fritz Lang film so deeply. What a gift to have had him over here and they didn't have the savvy to cut him loose. Formulaic unimaginative tasteless bastards. Cheated history of so much and fell over themselves making horse pucky like Mr Blanding's Dream House, while steering Lang's vehicle into a pile of cheese.
Technically pre-film noir but it's actually noir through and through (thanks, Fritz): expressive, oneiric, convulsive, deeply critical of the American criminal justice system and of American society more generally (with bystanders ready to blame every wrongdoing on the scary ex-con who's "beyond saving"). I also love the film's whimsical use of sound, with both frogs and Fonda's half-singing playing key roles.