12 February 2009 | hitchcockthelegend
These are the men I was forced to live with.
Joe Hufford is an honest and affable man, but during an altercation in a bar he punches out a man who sadly dies from banging his head on the floor. All and sundry realise that this is a tragic accident, including the prosecuting DA who tries to feed the inept defence lawyer ammunition in which to keep Hufford out of jail. Found guilty, Joe is sentenced to one to ten years in the pen, working hard and buoyed by the support of his fragile father on the outside, Joe gets about doing his time and hoping for parole. However, bad news comes his way and pretty soon Joe's term in jail will turn bitter - can the new warden and his pretty daughter be his salvation?
Incarceration based films is a favourite genre of mine, so you can imagine how delighted I am when I happen upon a first time viewing. When the said film turns out to be a positive delight, well I'm in incarceration heaven! Convicted, directed by Henry Levin, adapted by William Bowers from Martin Flavin's play, and starring Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford, Millard Mitchell and Dorothy Malone (Ed Begley has a cameo), is not so much underrated I feel, more like under seen and sadly forgotten.
One of the erstwhile reviewers on IMDb has suggested that this picture offers nothing new and that we have seen it all before! Really? In 1950? Are you sure? Truth is, that in spite of this being an update of Flavin's own 1931 piece, The Criminal Code, is that yes! this film now looks like standard formula - an unlucky prisoner is forced to join the convict code of ethics, the yellow snake in the grass, tough guards, the planned break outs, the crusty old lag destined to enact revenge for injustice, but arguably few prison based pictures from the black and white era are as tight and as enjoyable as this one. It boasts a wonderfully reined in performance from Glenn Ford as Hufford, with the first quarter - where Hufford is struck by the incredulity of his situation - is particularly memorable stuff from Ford. Then we also get a special effort from Crawford as DA/Warden Knowland, one scene as he fearlessly walks amongst the cons is a genre highlight to me. But both these men are in the shadow of a quite grizzled and effective turn from Millard Mitchell as Malloby, so much so it quickly became one of my favourite bitter lag performances.
It's not without failings, the love interest is misplaced and clearly improbable in practicality (though it should be noted that Dorothy Malone is fine here as Kay Knowland), and the finale blows out the basis for "solitary" confinement completely. But really to me these are minor quibbles for a 1950 prison based picture. Steadily directed and acted with skill, it also benefits from the considerable talents of Burnett Guffey in the photography department. All in all it's a fine picture that I highly recommend to genre hound dogs such as myself. You can probably knock off a point for my obvious bias, but I'm definitely giving this one 8/10.