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  • In Prison Shadows, hero Gene (Ed Nugent)Harris has been sent to prison for killing a boxing ring opponent for a reason which only makes sense to Al Martin, the scriptwriter. Gene is paroled to a fight promoter who bills him as Killer Harris. The promoter is aided by Gene's betrothed, wicked gal Claire (Lucille Lund) and a crooked fight manager. All told, Claire is stringing Gene, the promoter and the fight manager. All together they plot to have Killer Harris kill all his opponents so that they can get rich quick from all that good publicity. Honest.

    Dumber than the plot is Gene (Killer) Harris who loves Claire, his dog and donuts, not necessarily in that order. Gene is blind to Mary (Joan Barclay)Grant's love. Mary shows up when Gene gets out of the clink, while Claire sharpens her femme fatale skills. Mary is mostly ignored by Gene, but makes due by tending to the dog, being secretary to the evil promoter and giving Gene lessons on how to properly dunk donuts. Honest.

    But back to the dog as existential hero. Hollywood has given us daring dogs, cute dogs, drunken dogs and brave dogs, all usually partnered with humans that weren't anywhere near as smart as the dogs, whatever condition the dogs are in. This film could be considered a splendid example of the heroic dog formula. There is a twist here however. This dog, whose name I hopefully will never remember, does two dog tricks: leaping into the outstretched arms of any human who wants to hold the delightful little fur ball and sabotaging any sincere effort by a human to correctly dunk donuts. Just Ed Sullivan stuff, so far. Dogginess is only a pose however, until the moment arises when the cute little dickens can become a detective and uncover a key clue that eventually leads to the hero solving the mystery of why only Irish fighters are murdered. Or something. The solution involves towels, Chinese herbs, a now deceased dog and police force members whose average age appears to be about ninety. Not enough to hook you, yet?

    There are three scenes that I will not live long enough to forget: the aforementioned donut dunking seminar spiced with syrupy flirting and accompanied by the dog doing a medley of his tricks; Gene doing roadwork in tweed trousers, a cardigan sweater and fedora; and the obligatory thrilling climax when a police stenographer (age 93) pops out of a gym locker pen and pad in hand.

    Finally, intended as comic relief, but mostly functioning as a major depressant, is Syd Saylor,whose mugging and shtick are lost on me. Jerry Lewis fans might like him, though. Most comic, however, aside from the performances, is the method of murder practiced by the baddies. Truly creative and unique in cinema history as far as I know. One for the it's so bad, it's good collection.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A boxer gets out of prison for killing a man with a punch thrown after the bell. He had always suspected that there was more to the death the just his punch but could never prove it. Turning again to boxing he's stunned when the same thing happens to him again. Low budget crime/boxing drama suffers from a just okay script, just okay direction and not very good fight scenes. The story tends to drag. This is a story that could use some trimming, which is not a good thing when the film barely runs an hour. The director is a workman,he clearly can tell a story, but other than a wonderfully surreal shot of police bursting out of lockers in the final moments there is nothing special about anything he does. The whole thing falls down in the fights. The boxing scenes are clearly stock footage of actual fights taken from above or at odd angles so that you can't really see who is fighting. While I understand that the need to do it that way for cost reasons, it would have been nice if they had at least tried to match up shots. The worst offense is the drooping ring ropes in the corner scenes that don't match the real tight ropes in the fight footage. Its not a bad film as such, its just not really a good one nor is it one you really should bother with unless you're a fight film fan.
  • From those tiresome overhead boxing shots, used to great excess, to dogs being poisoned with secret Chinese medicine, to convicted felons having the run of the prison, creating a lasting friendship with the warden, and so on. This empty headed boxing movie goes nowhere and stretches the disbelief of the most gullible viewer. The lead doesn't look like a boxer. He is also pretty skinny and not very buff. The whole business of people being killed in the ring would bring about investigations that would make the head swim. Two bouts, two deaths. Gee, do you suppose something is going on? Then there's the relationships with the two women. The bad girl, of course, gets all the attention. Do you suppose that the nice, settled down girl will somehow win out in the end. The lobster scene from Annie Hall is sort of reprised with the dunking of donuts. Don't ask. It's about as sappy as it can be and not all that entertaining.
  • kidboots30 December 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    Lucille Lund had an all too brief career. She came to films in 1933 and after appearing with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in "The Black Cat" (1934) was chosen as a 1934 Wampus Baby Star. She appeared in a number of genres including horror, westerns and serials. She married in 1937 to a childhood sweetheart and retired from films in 1939.

    "Prison Shadows" was made in 1936 and starts with an overhead shot of a fight - when it is over you realise that it is being staged in prison.

    Gene Harris (Eddie Nugent) is awaiting release after serving time for manslaughter. He was a fighter and had accidentally killed his opponent. On his release, instead of being met by girlfriend, Claire (Lucille Lund in a "bad" girl role - you know she is the bad girl - she never wants to take Gene's dog "Babe" along) - who intentionally doesn't meet him - he is met by "nice' girl Mary and his dog "Babe". "Babe' is an especially cute mutt. After a scene involving donut etiquette Gene goes back to the fight game.

    His old manager promotes the fight as the comeback of Gene Harris, the fighter with the killer punch. The fight scenes are convincing and were mostly shot by an overhead camera.

    When the same thing happens again (his opponent is killed with a "knockout" punch) Gene is convinced something sinister is afoot. Monte Blue, a star of the silents, plays a crooked manager, who is in cahoots with Claire (who is double crossing everyone.)

    The ending has a great twist - for 65 minutes it is very snappy.
  • jcappy30 October 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    In "Prison Shadows," the innocents (nature) seem more convincing and real than the corrupt (urban noir). No doubt it's the natural alliance of Gene, Mary, Bertie, and Corky that spark this somewhat quirky film.

    This quartet may be mere dupes in a cranky plot, but they are not stereotypes. Joan Barclay (Mary) leads the way in undermining this possibility--and Monte Blue (Bertie) is right at her side. As a social unit, they may stumble their way into upsetting the plans of a corrupt, conspiratorial boxing ring, but they are never incompetent, nor do their shy qualities hamper them.

    Bound by light humor, and generous dispositions, they are in marked contrast to the boxing clique led by the sinuous, rattling snake presence of the manager (Forest Taylor) who stands alone in his convincing evil, as his lackluster followers disintegrate around him. It's the lonesome outsiders pitted against slithery underworld capitalists, with genuine charm winning out.

    But never a sentimental note enters their mutuality. In the final shot, when Mary and Gene finally embrace, Gene, now truly converted to her, cannot, having been blind to her qualities, fully engage her direct loving gaze. Instead, he casts a side look at the viewer, expressing a combo of unworthiness and gleeful good luck.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A surprisingly good B movie has everything it takes to keep your attention. A great set-up, some light comedy (concerning the art of doughnut dunking) and a suspenseful plot line. Eddie Nugent is a rising prizefighter who presumably killed a man in the ring, having attacked Nugent due to his anger over losing. Nugent claims that his sock in the jaw wasn't hard enough to kill a man, just simple self defense. Now paroled, he wants to clear his name and resume his career, finding that those two goals are closer together than he thinks.

    The sleazy world of prizefighting is explored, and a clever opening scene gives just that indication as it is obvious that Nugent's boss (Forrest Taylor) isn't on the up and up. Like "Rocky", this is one of those men's movies where the romantic subplot is as important as the main bout, showing Nugent in love with cheating Lucille Lund while his boss's sweet secretary (Joan Barclay) pines for him while helping him find out information to clear himself.

    Billed as "Killer Harris" against his will, Nugent "returns to the scene of the crime" which always keeps the shadows of his prison life in his front memory. I don't think that the writers realized the metaphors they cleverly created. The light banter between Nugent and Barclay (particularly of her dog Corky's attempt to prevent them from doughnut dunking correctly) is genuinely funny rather than simply "cute", while trashy Lund has some great one liners at Nugent's expense. This may not be on the list of great fight films or crime dramas, but it certainly will be going on mine.
  • dougdoepke13 December 2016
    Promising prize-fighter Harris is paroled from jail after killing a man in the ring. Wishing to resume his career, he falls into the hands of a tricky promoter and corner man. Good thing good girl Mary is there to help even though Harris seems stuck on bad girl Claire.

    Rather far-fetched programmer, marred by casting leading man Ed Nugent as a rough and tumble prize fighter. Trouble is he looks more like a fraternity boy with his refined good looks. Girls may have swooned but it does nothing for the movie's plausibility. Crucially, he lacks needed intensity that the fighter's role calls for. At the same time, it's really Joan Barclay (Mary) who carries the film. Catch her many restrained expressions of unrequited love, only once going over-the-top-- the frequent pitfall of early talkies.

    Also, note the many overhead shots of the boxers trading blows. I expect the unusual number was so that a double could be used for Nugent, what with his undamaged good looks. Anyhow nothing much to remark on with this thoroughly forgettable 30's programmer. Oh yes, one more thing—that curious business with the proper way to dunk a doughnut was taught to upper-class girls in Finishing Schools. After all, a debutante doesn't want to act like a truck driver when supping at Mrs. Big Bucks afternoon tea. Sort of separates the refined folks from us commoners. Anyhow, it's an amusing moment in a film that could have used more.
  • bkoganbing5 February 2015
    Prison Shadows only makes sense in the context of the Thirties and the boxing game. During that decade there were several ring deaths, two of the most prominent were killed by Max Baer in the ring. One was Frankie Campbell who was annihilated by Baer in a match. The second was Ernie Schaaf who took a terrific beating from Baer but survived to be 'knocked out' by Primo Carnera and die after that match. But neither Baer or Carnera served any time for the deaths involved.

    As did Eddie Nugent in this film. But he gets a parole and there's a promoter who's willing to back him in the ring as 'Killer Harris'. Apparently that's something no one thought of for OJ in these times. But it's a good gimmick and another fighter dies.

    We're never told why someone is doping these fighters to make it look like Nugent has a killer punch. Shades of Primo Carnera. I won't say who, you'll just look at the film and you're never really told why.

    This came from an outfit called Puritan Pictures, a poverty row movie company and it shows.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Dumb but watchable--not exactly a glowing endorsement for "Prison Shadows"! But I must agree that the film is pretty dumb because the characters are just too stupid to be real! The film begins with a really stupid boxer getting out of prison for killing a man in the ring. He couldn't understand it--how did his blows kill the guy? What he also can't figure is why his fiancé didn't show up when he got out--and it's 100% obvious to EVERY SINGLE AUDIENCE MEMBER that she was a no-good tramp but the fool just doesn't see it. He also is completely clueless when it comes to his other lady friend--who is 100% gaga for him yet he doesn't notice. What an oblivious sort of guy. Now you might just assume he's punch-drunk--but he can't blame his slow wits on boxing--he's just dumb.

    Later, yet another guy is killed by our stupid hero. Once again, he can't understand it because he barely hit the guy. Now he FINALLY starts to think something is amiss....but he still thinks his fiancé is sweet--even though by now she's done everything but stabbed him in the face!! But, when you assume he's the biggest idiot in the film the killer leaves behind a vital clue as to his identity. Is anyone thinking in this film?! Despite too many dumb guys in the film and some very obvious characters, I still give the movie a three as it is still mildly entertaining...as long as you aren't very demanding.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sometimes movies are like that too, with a big old doughnut hole right in the middle of it. You really have to put your brain on auto pilot to watch this flick, because not a whole lot of it makes any sense. I can see where you could come up with a boxing story with the basic premise of fixing the big match by committing murder, but why in the world would you go to the trouble of killing a couple of palookas along the way on the outside chance of getting to Madison Square Garden? The movie is filled with a lot of 'Whys?', and I keep asking myself why they were in there.

    Like this - did I hear this right? Claire (Lucille Lund) explains she can't marry Gene Harris (Eddie Nugent) for seven years because he just got out on parole. What?! Where's that in the marriage rule book? Claire just might be the most unbelievable character in the story; can you imagine someone like her hooking up with Monte Blue as fight manager Bert? You would think he'd be the first guy she would want to take out after the first amorous advance.

    I'm convinced that B movie writers of the era regularly failed to put their stories up to a sniff test for even a hint of believability. Chinese herb poison in the towel that absorbs into the bloodstream resulting in death? If that were the case, Charlie Chan would have come across it in one of his flicks for sure.

    I can sometimes get long winded panning films like this but I'll keep this one mercifully short. I'll just close on one more element that defies explanation. Why have Corky the Dog portray Babe the Dog. Why not just let him keep his own name? And why not have HIS picture on the little doggy grave at the end of the picture? Sorry, I said one more element. I couldn't help it.
  • Well, this idea behind this one seems a bit corny but if the film were well made into a a very dark film and script revised then it could be a good film - it has potential to be much better than what it is. Instead of being a good dark crime film we have a goofy boxer, Gene Harris, that is being framed for murder and through the death of his dog the evidence is revealed as to how this young boxer could kill 2 men with a single punch.

    There are attempts at comedy in this film but the joke fall way flat. The real comedy comes from Eddie Nugent. Honestly, Eddie Nugent does not look like a boxer at all... maybe a boxers goofy best friend but not the boxer himself. LOL - that is what makes this film actually comical and not the lame humor itself within the film.

    Who Holds A Doughnut Like That?! I mean really I have never seen one held that way before to dunk in the drink.

    I feel sorry for the dog in this film - that is where my heart belongs.

    3/10