Each Dawn I Die (1939)

“You’re the only guy I ever met that gave me a break without putting the bee on me for dough.” Okay, so the plot is rather implausible (after a while you lose track of who is breaking out of OR breaking into prison!) but come on, we’re talking about an entertaining (if at times excessively melodramatic) gangster/prison film from Warner Brothers that boasts outstanding performances by James Cagney and George Raft! Investigative reporter “Frank Ross” (Cagney) gets framed for manslaughter by some corrupt politicians and is sent to “the big house” where he eventually befriends hardened criminal “Stacey” (Raft), who agrees to help him clear his name. This one has a little bit of everything – including sadistic prison guards, a daring courtroom escape, parole shenanigans, a thrilling prison riot and even a “rat” named “Limpy” (Joe Downing). Cagney and Raft had appeared together briefly in Taxi! (1932) during a brawl at a nightclub dance contest (Cagney ends up punching Raft out!). Directed by William Keighley, Each Dawn I Die also features a strong supporting cast that includes George Bancroft, Jane Bryan, Alan Baxter, Victor Jory, Stanley Ridges, Thurston Hall and “Slapsie” Maxie Rosenbloom. Each Dawn I Die was Raft’s first picture under a new contract with Warner Brothers.

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