Howard Hawks

Sog.: da una pièce teatrale di Martin Flavin; Scen.: Seton I. Miller, Fred Niblo Jr.; F.: James Wong Howe, L. William O’Connell; Mo.: Edward Curtis; Scgf.: Edward Jewell; Mu.: Sam Perry (non accred.); Su.: Glenn Rominger; Int.: Walter Huston (Warden Brady, il direttore del carcere), Phillips Holmes (Robert Graham), Constance Cummings (Mary Brady), Mary Doran (Gertrude Williams), DeWitt Jennings (Gleason), Boris Karloff (Galloway), John Sheehan (McManus), Otto Hoffman (Fales), Clark Marshall (Runch), Arthur Hoyt (Nettleford), Ethel Wales (Katie), John St. Polis (Dr. Rinewulf), Paul Porcasi (Spelvin), Hugh Walker (Lew), Jake Vance (reporter), James Guilfoyle (detective Doran), Lee Phelps (detective Doherty); Prod.: Harry Cohn per Columbia Pictures Corporation; Pri. pro.: 3 gennaio 1931
35mm. D.: 97′. Bn

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Thirteen years before his first film with Bogart, The Criminal Code is a movie that is perfectly in line with the American prison film genre. Within the panorama of exciting films about convicts, surely not lacking in quality, even in its exaggeration, Hawks’s work demonstrates a fine freethinking temperament and a sharp sense of violence and cruelty.
The concentration camp-like world of prisons and penal colonies has inspired many melodramas in which the hero, unjustly convicted, ends up redeeming himself by refusing to participate in an uprising (…). Counterattacking this unpleasant theme, the filmmaker primarily seeks to make viewers feel the weight of days that go by without any change for the inmate, if not the hardening of his heart and soul. The rough boots of hard labor, the rattling of tins, shouts that foreshadow a revolt: the film’s tone feels like a reporter piece. No final reversal proves the authorities are morally right. A moralist who criticizes informants, Hawks discovers savagery.
The syncopated rhythm of the dramatic construction is subject to a predefined narrative style that, in a certain sense, changes it. But it is with the characters that the film takes off: the director takes them to their logical climax, at times grisly (Walter Huston shaved by an inmate who is a licensed cutthroat), thus creating characters who are intrinsically exciting and whose fate is “the only one possible.”
Jean-Claude Missiaen, Howard Hawks, Editions Universitaires, Paris, 1966

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