Penitentiary (1938)

  |  Drama

Penitentiary (1938) Poster

A District Attorney becomes a Prison Warden, and finds himself overseeing the sentence of a meek man who he'd once prosecuted as the D.A.. He discovers his new job is more complex than he'd thought, especially with this meek prisoner.

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Cast & Crew

Top Billed Cast


John Brahm


Martin Flavin (play), Seton I. Miller, Fred Niblo Jr.

Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

28 March 2008 | Howard_B_Eale
decent remake of THE CRIMINAL CODE
Not as stylish or sharp as the Howard Hawks version, this very theatrical drama stars Walter Connolly as a D.A. who becomes a prison warden, and winds up overseeing the sentence of a man he prosecuted (a meek, repressed John Howard).

What it lacks in realism (it's amazing how many times the prisoners are allowed to use knives, for instance) it makes up for in tough dialogue; a sequence where Connolly tries as hard as he can to wear Howard down, using increasingly cruel language, is classic. Scarred-face Marc Lawrence isn't Boris Karloff, but he makes a strong heavy, nonetheless, and it's great to see Connolly in a serious role; he's perhaps best known as the long-suffering lawyer to John Barrymore's unstoppable ham actor in TWENTIETH CENTURY.

Critic Reviews

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Plot Summary




Release Date:

5 February 1938



Country of Origin


Filming Locations

Anamosa, Iowa, USA

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