City Without Men (January 14, 1943)
Released on January 14, 1943: A group of wives and girlfriends of convicted prisoners plan a jail break to get their men out of stir.
Directed by Sidney Salkow
Written by Martin Berkeley, Donald Davis, W.L. River, Budd Schulberg and George Sklar.
The Actors: Linda Darnell (Nancy Johnson), Edgar Buchanan (Michael T. Mallory), Michael Duane (Tom Adams), Sara Allgood (Maria Barton), Glenda Farrell (Billie LaRue), Leslie Brooks (Gwen), Doris Dudley (Winnie), Margaret Hamilton (Dora), Constance Worth (Elsie), Rosemary DeCamp (Mrs. Slade), Sheldon Leonard (Monk LaRue), Stanley Blystone (prison guard), Lloyd Bridges (Coast Guard Helmsman), Jack Carr (bartender), George Chandler (Chester), Joseph Crehan (Father Burns), William B. Davidson (prison warden), Boyd Davis (Senator), Don DeFore (Mr. Peters), Lester Dorr (Coast Guard Officer), Tom Dugan (convict Pete), Clyde Fillmore (unknown), James Flavin (Coast Guard Officer), William Gould (the Judge), Arthur Hohl (convict), Robert Homans (Port Captain), Crauford Kent (prosecuting attorney), Richard Loo (Japanese spy), Oscar O'Shea (Joseph Barton), Jack Perry (patron in bar), Dewey Robinson (laundry boss), Frank M. Thomas (Senator).
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Just like you, I've watched many motion pictures with a 'payoff' like this one, but it never struck me as a life lesson with anything for me to learn until I watched Edgar Buchanan, the television sit-com actor who played 'Uncle Joe' on Petticoat Junction. Sure, this movie has a house full of women from different backgrounds who cat-fight, scheme, and learn to get along with each other while they wait for their men in the prison across the street. But when Edgar Buchanan spoke one line in a drunken stupor about three quarters of the way through this movie, I recognized in him a fear that I also have. I'm betting that you also have this fear, and don't even realize what it does to you. Edgar Buchanan plays the part of a drunken lawyer who had one big victory many years ago, and since has fallen into a life of conning women out of money by pretending to defend their men in prison, but actually uses the money to drink himself silly. After one of our leading ladies exposes him publicly in his favorite bar as a fraud and fake, he confronts himself and excuses his drunken ways by sadly stating that he cannot plead anyone's case because he has a horrible fear of losing. He would rather drink himself silly than to risk losing a battle that he thinks he cannot win.
Pow! That hit me right in the gut. No, I do not drink myself silly because I am afraid to lose anything, but I am very guilty of 'picking my battles' - and walking away from many battles because I am afraid to lose. But before I go further, let me say that it is not a bad thing to pick your battles. It is a necessary part of any successful life. The thing that is bad is the reason for avoiding any battle. If I choose to avoid a battle over something that win or lose will not get me another step closer to my goals and vision, that is a good thing. Many of life's battles are just wasted energy . . . changing nothing when the battle is over. But when I walk away from something that is in my path because it scares the beejeebers out of me . . . that is something that I need to face and conquer, like Buchanan finally did. Most of the really big advances in our universe were created by people who moved a mountain that everyone else said could not be moved. The people who do great things ignore the advice of their friends, ignore the advice of the world around them, and charge ahead into that terror barrier with a vision and focus that has absolutely zero basis in common sense. Have you ever done that? Win or lose, after facing the terror you will be a better person than everyone around you that sat back and told you what a fool you were. Dare something worthy . . . find a passion and a goal and a vision to do something bigger than you. Something that possibly scares you just to think about it. The goal of surviving today so that you can live to fight again tomorrow is the goal of a fool. Find something bigger than yourself - something so big that if you told the people around you, they would call you 'crazy.' Grab that vision and every day take a step closer to it. It will always mean that you will do things that you have never done before - things that possibly no one has ever done before - things that scare you silly. Don't forget the wise old grandmother's advice when she said, "If you want something that you have never had before, you must do something that you have never done before. Otherwise you will keep getting tomorrow the same thing you got yesterday . . . and that is standing still, not moving forward." Be like Edgar Buchanan at the end of this movie and push right into the thing that terrifies you the most and is keeping you from your dreams.
Don DeFore and Glenda Farrell
Don DeFore and Leslie Brooks
Doris Dudley and Linda Darnell
Edgar Buchanan and Linda Darnell
Glenda Farrell, Don DeFore and Leslie Brooks
Jack Carr and Edgar Buchanan
Joseph Crehan and Sara Allgood
Linda Darnell and Doris Dudley
Linda Darnell and Edgar Buchanan face the Senator
A big bowl of white kernel popcorn on the bar in front of Linda Darnell and Edgar Buchanan
Linda Darnell loses all hope as her boyfriend is sentenced to prison
Margaret Hamilton at the piano
Rosemary DeCamp and Sara Allgood
Rosemary DeCamp stares at the prison across the street where her son is being electrocuted at midnight
Sara Allgood and Linda Darnell
Sara Allgood stares out the window at the prison across the street where her husband is serving a life sentence.
Sheldon Leonard and Michael Duane
Sheldon Leonard talking to his girlfriend during prison visiting hours