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  • William Collier Jr. gets out of prison after doing seven years for a crime he didn't commit. He has vengeance in his heart for Matthew Betz, who framed him into the conviction. He buys a gun and heads to Betz' apartment, only to find him fled. He's met by Blanche Mehaffey -- Metz took her jewelry, told her the rent's paid until the end of the month, and that she can always rustle food --who takes his gun and hides it when the cops show up to frisk him. Then she suggests they go on the square. A couple of days later, Collier winds up at the mission run by kindly Paul Weigel and begins his rehabilitation.

    There's dirt, misery, and abject poverty in every frame of this Poverty Row flick. I can't imagine that movie-goers would be interested in escaping to this in the year it came out. Yet TEN NIGHTS IN A BAR-ROOM was a big hit on the States Rights circuit. Of course, it might have helped if Miss Mehaffey could have spoken her lines in more than a dull monotone; there are a lot of seemingly unnecessary cutaways to her speaking individual sentences that I believe she kept blowing her lines and director Frank Strayer had no choice but to chop up what should have been longer shots to accommodate her. The script by Scott Darling has not aged well, with James Bradbury Jr. playing a mute character called "The Dummy". All these problems make this a well-meaning and well-played effort that's hard to sit through.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    William Collier Jnr. was born into a show business family with his step-father being the respected actor William Collier who adopted him and gave him his name. During the twenties he was a handsome leading man (he was great friends with Louise Brooks) but even though the early talkies brought him talked about roles in an early Frank Capra "The Donovan Affair"(1929) and "Little Caesar"(1930) by 1931 he was on poverty row and, apart from an interesting role in "The Story of Temple Drake", stayed there.

    The grainy, poor quality of the print gives the film the sort of realism you see in documentaries about soup kitchens and men on the street looking for work but apart from that the story is the very much bog standard one about a wrongly convicted man being released after seven years in prison and just itching to administer his rough justice on the real criminal, Blake (Matthew Betz). Blake is one step ahead of him, taking it on the lam, so when Jerry (Collier) finally tracks down his address, all he finds is Molly, Blake's cast off mistress. Blanche Mehaffey doesn't convince at first - she tries to talk tough but she is just a natural sweetie at heart and only comes into her own when she proposes that both she and Jerry should team up as friends and go straight.

    Jerry is now a fixture at the local free food and bed mission and the frail minister's right hand man. He was turned away from the paying establishment because he didn't have the money for a bed and is now trying to spread the word about all the good the minister is doing to help the down and outs!! Villainous Walter Long (who gives the film the only full bodied role, even though only relegated to a couple of scenes) is not happy about it and at first tries to plant stolen property on the old man with the unwitting help of two of Jerry's jail bird buddies and when that doesn't work, a plan is afoot to blow the mission sky high!!! Meanwhile Blake shuffles back into the picture now a broken down wreck and Molly has to use all her persuasive powers to turn Jerry's thoughts from doing an act he will regret.

    Even though Blanche Mehaffey's career was petering out she had her most productive year in 1931 - did it matter whether most of the films were westerns with a serial thrown in??