Up The River (1930)

up the river 1930

Comedy directed by John Ford and starring Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart. It’s a lot of fun seeing the early Tracy and Bogart and there are a good number of laughs along the way.

Saint Louis (Spencer Tracy) is a big time criminal and Steve Jordan (Humphrey Bogart) is a rich kid who got into trouble before leaving on a boat to China. His family thinks he really sailed and doesn’t have a clue that he’s in prison. They end up as cellmates. The prison has a women’s section. Steve’s job is to check in the new inmates. He really likes his job when he sees Judy Fields (Claire Luce).

She’s in for three years for her part in a phony stock scheme. Her partner got away with it. Saint Louis is the star pitcher on the prison’s baseball team. He also wants to see Steve and Judy get together when they’re on the outside. Steve is getting out on parole and Judy has another five months to go. Judy’s partner, Frosby, visits her. She says she wants nothing to do with him and mentions Steve.

Steve is back home in New England with his mother and sister in their big home. One Sunday when leaving church Frosby is waiting. He tells Steve he’s setting up in town and if he doesn’t want his mother to know he was in jail instead of China he’d better cooperate.

Steve sends a letter back to Saint Louis telling him what’s going on. Saint Louis and his pal Danemora Dan (Warren Hymer) use the prison variety show as a way to bust out. They head to New England to help Steve. They walk into Frosby’s office just as Steve is about to deck him. Steve told him he’s telling his mother where he really was. Saint Louis uses a phony name and is friendly with Frosby. Steve invites Saint Louis and Dan to stay with him.

Frosby has plans. That night Steve and company go on a hay ride. When they return they find out Steve’s mother invested her bonds in Frosby’s phony stocks. Mother goes up to bed leaving Steve alone with Saint Louis and Dan. Steve wants to take a gun and go after him. He’s talked out of it. Saint Louis has plans to get the bonds back.

Saint Louis and Dan are now hopping a freight to get back to prison. Steve gave them a message for Judy. They also want to get back in time for the big game with a rival prison team.

Bogart plays it straight while Tracy handles the comedy. Hymer is excellent as the dimwitted Dan. Claire Luce made a few movies but made her mark on Broadway. Playing real quick parts as inmates are Ward Bond and Dick Curtis. There are a lot of bad comedies from the era but this is one to see.

Claire Luce

Claire Luce

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About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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