9 June 2014 | MartinHafer
What a creepy film!
"On Probation" is not a particularly good film but it is worth seeing just because it's so very creepy. When the movie begins, a young girl about to be sent away to reform school. However, a 'nice guy', Al Murray (Monte Blue) volunteers to take the girl in and care for her. However, this isn't due to altruism--Al is a scum-bag politician and he's doing this to make himself look like a nice guy. It's all just a public relations stunt.
Years pass. Jane (Lucile Browne) has been off at boarding school for many years and she really doesn't know her benefactor. She thinks he's a nice guy and is excited to see him after all this time. However, when Al sees her, his libido is inflamed and he plans on having her for himself! But, she naturally doesn't think of her benefactor this way. In fact, she's fallen in love with another fellow. So, Al decides to ruin this other fellow or even kill him if necessary--his passions for Jane are that intense! What's next? See this weird little film and find out.
"On Probation" was made by tiny little Peerless Studios. Despite its name, the studio was a super-cheap outfit and the film shows it. Much of the acting is stiff and should have been re-shot. But, the cheapo so-called 'poverty row studios' usually didn't care a lot about quality. Getting the movie completed fast and on budget were the only concerns and production values were pretty stark (such as the film lacking much in the way of incidental music as well as an absolutely terrible use of model trains near the end when they supposedly had a big accident!). It's a shame, as although the film is crappy, the weird psycho-sexual angle is pretty lurid and fascinating at the same time! In other words, if the film hadn't had so many deficiencies, the plot was pretty good...or at least exciting! As it is, it's a poor film that manages to entertain.
By the way, as the other review indicates, this film has been chopped up a bit. I don't think this is the reason the film is bad--it was pretty bad in its original form, I am sure. Also, the Alpha Video copy (available on DVD) is pretty poor--and typical of many of their 1930s releases. I don't think they ever do any restoration work on their videos.