Buried Alive (November 6, 1939)
Released on November 6, 1939: A model prisoner hoping to get out of prison and begin a new life finds himself strapped into the electric chair instead of getting paroled.
Produced by Ben Judell
Directed by Victor Halperin
Written by William A. Ullman Jr. with screenplay by George Bricker
The Actors: Beverly Roberts (Joan Ryan, prison nurse), Robert Wilcox (Johnny Martin, prisoner trustee), Paul McVey (Jim Henderson, prison warden), Ted Osborne (Ira Hanes, prison chaplain), George Pembroke (Ernie Matthews), Stephen Chase (Doctor Robert Lee), George Lynn (Gus Barth, prisoner), Wheeler Oakman (newspaper reporter Manning), Norman Budd (The Kid, prisoner), Ben Alexander (Riley), Boyd Irwin (Rutledge, Chairman of the parole board), Edward Earle (Charlie Blake), Dave O'Brien (newspaper reporter Carson), Robert McKenzie (Al Garrity, bartender), Don Rowan (Big Billy), Joe Caits (Joe Rizinsky), Richard Cramer (guard), Al Ferguson (guard), Robert Fiske (Prosecuting Attorne Gerald Storm), Joe McGuinn (prison guard Mike Gurney), James McNamara (Wegley), Frank O'Connor (guard), Dick Rush (guard), Bobby Sherwood (Holmes), Jack C. Smith (Mort Jarvis)
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The Short Walk to the Electric Chair
The State Prison holds two thousand men and one woman . . . . Nurse Joan Ryan. Joan is a beautiful young blonde and the doctor loves her. The prison chaplain has a crush on Joan, and the executioner secretly loves Joan. The warden wonders if he is running a prison or a lonely hearts club.
Young Johnny Martin, a model prisoner, is a model prisoner and a prison trustee with only two years left on his hitch. In fact, he is up for parole in a couple of weeks and is a cinch to walk free after the parole hearing.
As our adventure opens the prison is about to execute a man. Executioner Ernie Matthews will earn $250 for his minute of work when he pulls the switch that will send 3,000 volts of electricity through a condemned killer strapped into the prison electric chair.
The condemned man walks to the chamber holding the electric chair with the prison chaplain on one side and a prison guard on another. Three newspaper reporters walk to their seats to witness and report on the event. Executioner Ernie turns on the juice, and as the clock ticks away he pulls the lever that will kill the man in the chair.
After the execution, Ernie needs to visit the local bar to wash away his memories with a bottle of whiskey. Unfortunately, the three newspaper reporters are also drinking at the bar and one of the reporters is talking loud and celebrating the execution. For reporter Manning, played by Wheeler Oakman, executions are a great adventure and he likes to brag about some of the more vivid deaths he has witnessed.
Executioner Ernie sees the reporters and gets up and heads for the door to get away from them, but the bragging newspaper reporter spots him and soon a fight breaks out and Ernie is getting the stuffing knocked out of him. Fortunately, prison trustee Johnny, who is acting as chauffeur for the prison, walks into the bar to pick Ernie up and return him to the prison. When he spots Executioner Ernie being beat up by the mouthy reporter he joins the fight and gets Executioner Ernie out of the bar and into the car.
Inside the bar, the mouthy reporter decides that he will write a newspaper article that will keep trustee Johnny in prison for a long time . . . . His anticipated parole in a couple of weeks will not happen. This leads to that, and not only is Johnny denied his freedom, he will shortly be sent to the electric chair.
The day has arrived and Johnny is led to the electric chair. The same three reporters arrive to watch Johnny fry. No call comes from the Governor, and the execution goes forward. Executioner Ernie, whose life Johnny saved in the bar fight, gets ready to pull the switch and kill the boy who saved his life. First he turns on the turbo that will start buzzing loudly and generating the 3,000 volts of electricity. Then he pulls the switch, then watching the clock for enough time to pass to insure that Johnny is dead. Then the story gets really interesting. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
George Pembroke pulls the switch.
Beverly Roberts and Robert Wilcox
Don Rowan and Joe McGuinn
George Pembroke and George Lynn
George Pembroke and Paul McVey
George Pembroke and Ted Osborne
George Pembroke and Wheeler Oakman
Paul McVey and Edward Earle
Ted Osborne and Beverly Roberts
Wheeler Oakman and Dave O'Brien