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Working titles for this film were Escape from the Big House and The Man Without a Face. The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contains a letter from a PCA official to Columbia, dated September 6, 1939, in which the official called the story "unacceptable from the point of view of the Production Code" and objected to its "complete absence of any suggestion of honesty, dignity, or even common decency, on the part of all the prison officials, including the warden." The PCA official also complained about "numerous scenes of shocking brutality and gruesomeness" and called the story "a complete travesty of prison life." In addition, the PCA criticized "the very questionable characterization of the Rev. Storm, who appears to us to be a bit of a nincompoop." By November 1939, a new treatment was written and approved by the PCA with only minor suggestions, including a request that the film not show law enforcement officials dying at the hands of criminals.