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.
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