The Last Mile

The Season's Dramatic Thunderbolt! From the Play that Rocked the Nation!

75 min     5.8     1932     USA


Richard Walters is condemned to death for a murder he claims not to have committed. He arrives on death row just before a brutal inmate leads the other convicts in a violent uprising. Walters gets caught up in the riot, while on the outside his friends are trying to find evidence of his innocence.


John Chard wrote:
We are all just numbers here. The Last Mile is directed by Samuel Bischoff and adapted to screenplay by Seton Miller from the John Wexley play of the same name. It stars Preston Foster, Howard Phillips, George Stone, Noel Madison and Adam Roscoe. Music is by Val Burton and cinematography by Arthur Edeson. Interesting watching this pic these days to note just how much set in stone the formula is even today. All of the staples of the prison based dramas are right here in 1932, and of course the thematic beats of anti capital punishment still bang loud as much today as they did back then. Reprieve! Reprieve! The Last Mile in production is very much of its time, the stage origins not really leaving us as this is essentially a one set production. The acting ranges from excitable overacting to non credible characterisations. It's also a touch irritating that the key element for our main man Dick Walters (Phillips), the flashback to why he was sentenced to death, is played too early in the piece. And yet there's a power in the drama that lures you in, keeps you right there in the confines of death row. From a photographic stand point it looks terrific, Edeson's (They Drive by Night/Casablanca/The Maltese Falcon) monochrome lensing is perfectly moody. Holding court in the acting stakes is Foster, who is right at home playing the angry alpha male, it's the plum role and the one with the dramatic swagger. It was a busy year for Foster with 7 releases! Including the brilliant I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. Not a great film but it's above average, and important in a number of ways as regards the history of genre cinema. While as a time capsule it remains a fascinating venture. 6/10