The Criminal Code 03/13/21

Powerhouse Indicator
Region B Blu-ray

Howard Hawks’ early sound picture is a worthy prison drama — with top performances from Walter Huston and Boris Karloff, both just as their film careers began to take off. Huston shows the screen how a stage actor can take command: his DA-turned warden character is corrupt yet retains his air of authority. Karloff’s convict seethes with raw menace, and Hawks uses him better than anyone except James Whale. That ‘other’ Code, the Production Code, found this show to be unbearably tense — even though all the brutality happens off-screen, violence is soaked into every scene. With Constance Cummings and Phillips Holmes. On Region B Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.