18 December 2012 | bkoganbing
The Unhappy Life of Frankie Rogers
Played by Jimmy Lydon as a kid and Wallace Ford as an adult, Frankie Rogers the protagonist of Back Door To Heaven has a short and unhappy life and is someone who could never catch a break. I've known people like that one in particular from my past who didn't even have parents for his cognitive existence. He like Rogers could never get a break in life.
I wish I could have given Back Door To Heaven a better rating, the cast is a good one and the performances most sincere. But sadly this film is way too awash in sentimentality and pathos.
From an abusive parental household to assorting with sleazy types young Jimmy Lydon who only wanted to fit in gets sent to reform school and becomes a harden criminal. Nearly all the other kids in Aline McMahon's grade school class seem to have made something of themselves except him as he grows into Wallace Ford a hardened criminal. Eventually he moves inexorably to his appointed fate at the death house which he's determined to cheat.
Note the presence of a young Van Heflin before his success on Broadway in The Philadelphia Story and his Oscar for Johnny Eager. As a grownup he's a lawyer who tries to obtain mercy for Ford for a capital crime. McMahon does well as the beloved schoolteacher.
It's a sad film Back Door To Heaven, but it could have used a lot more work to make it OK.