25 February 2017 | MartinHafer
Modestly entertaining...and nothing more.
While Warner Brothers of the 1930s was known for its big stars and prestigious films, they also made B-movies...as did all the major studios. Sure, there were the tiny studios that made nothing but cheap Bs, but so did all the studios....and "Alcatraz Island" is a B from Warner. When I say 'B', I am talking about a shorter feature film meant to round out a double-feature. These Bs were quickly made and often not particularly good compared to the A pictures-- though there were plenty of Bs that were amazingly good. "Alcatraz Island" isn't amazingly good...but it is enjoyable.
The film is about a 'nice' gangster, Gat Brady (John Litel). While he's larcenous, he's swell otherwise and wouldn't hurt a fly. However, when he's caught for tax evasion, his charmed life goes south VERY fast. He's sentenced to a lengthy term in Leavenworth (despite the nice DA's recommendation for leniency). However, after this occurs, the evil gangster Red Carroll tries to kidnap Brady's young daughter but is soon caught. Oddly, they sent him to Leavenworth as well and allowed him access to Brady. Not surprisingly, they soon get in a fight and Brady is sent to the tough new prison, Alcatraz. So soon Carroll deliberately gets himself sent to this tough prison so he can continue to make Brady's life a living hell. And, when Carroll is stabbed in prison, his death bed confession is that Brady did it...even though he didn't. So how will the nice DA help Brady in this predicament?
The story is mildly interesting but several story elements make little sense--especially in that final courtroom scene. Additionally, the final dialog is amazingly preachy. Yet, despite these problems, the acting and production values are exceptional for a B. Overall, entertaining as long as you don't think about the plot too much!