City of Silent Men


1h 4m 1942

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 12, 1942
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Pacific Films
Distribution Company
Producers Releasing Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 4m
Film Length
5,833ft (6 reels)

Synopsis

Ex-convicts Gil Davis and Jeb Parker are unable to pay for their meal at a Landale café, and although waitress Jane Muller is sympathetic, her angry father Ed strikes Jeb. Gil fights back until another patron knocks him unconscious, and Muller has the two ex-convicts arrested. At their trial, Gil and Jeb plead that they have been unable to find work because of their criminal records, and that the Army will not accept them without a recommendation. Before the judge can sentence them, Mayor Hendricks has them released into his custody and asks them to rehabilitate an old cannery to working order. Cynical Gil is astonished that Hendricks would urge them to hire other ex-convicts to work in a cooperative effort, but Jeb is not surprised as he and Hendricks are old friends. Although Hendricks' daughter Helen is supportive of her father, her brother Jerry insists that no criminal can ever be reformed. When more than two hundred convicts arrive in Landale looking for work at the cannery, newspaper publisher Fred Bernard, who has opposed Hendricks' plan in his paper, starts calling Landale a "convict haven." Through hard work, Gil, Jeb and their friends transform the cannery into a functional factory. Helen praises Gil for all the work he has done, but he declares that it will not last and is accused of having a persecution complex by Helen. Gil's wariness is justified, however, as Bernard and his friends offer to buy out the hard-working ex-convicts, who reject the offer. Later, Gil gently rejects Jane, who has fallen in love with him, but Jerry, a war veteran, tries to renew his relationship with her. Although Muller is eager for his daughter to marry into money, Jane rebuffs Jerry because he previously refused to marry her, and Muller, who is abusive, remains convinced that Gil is coming between them. When Gil strikes a produce seller named Danny Liptine because he hikes his prices to discourage the convicts, Bernard exaggerates the incident and demands that Hendricks revoke the deed to the cannery, then launches a campaign to oust the convicts and Hendricks. Jeb urges Hendricks not to risk his position for them, but Hendricks remains steadfast. Gil, who is falling in love with Helen despite himself, confides in her that he had gone to jail for "taking home samples" from the bank where he worked to impress his fiancé, who waited only two weeks after his arrest before marrying someone else. Although Gil now believes that Helen is interested in him purely out of sympathy, Helen has truly fallen in love with him. Later, Jane goes to talk to Gil about his relationship with Helen and sees him turn away Manners and Gordon, two escaped convicts in search of a hiding place. When she inadvertently mentions the escapees to her father, Muller tells the police that the convicts are hiding at the cannery. However, Gil and Jeb have no intention of shielding the convicts and have already gotten rid of them. After the police raid the cannery, Jane informs them of her father's lie. Later, Bernard calls a town meeting to discuss running the convicts out of town, and Helen and Gil finally admit they have fallen in love. Jane tells Gil she is running away from her brutal father, who in addition to beating her, caused her mother's death. Muller becomes enraged after seeing Jane kiss Gil goodbye, and when Jane screams that she is escaping before he can he kill her, he strikes her with a blow that proves fatal. That night at the town meeting, even Jerry accuses his father of having a misguided sense of justice and tolerance. Hendricks then counters Bernard's verbal attacks by pointing out the fact that there has been no increase in crime due to the convicts. His speech is interrupted, however, by the announcement that Jane has been murdered, and her body found in the woods. After Muller accuses Gil of Jane's death, Liptine incites the townspeople to form an angry lynch mob. Helen and her father rush to warn Gil, but he refuses to leave town, even though the mob is storming the cannery. Hendricks tries to forestall the mob by accusing them of behaving like criminals, and then admits that Jeb became a father figure to him and set him on the right path after he had spent his own childhood in jail. The crowd is quieted only after Gil forces Muller to confess to killing Jane. Then after Jerry finds Jane's dress in Muller's car, the police arrest the Muller. Later, the government signs a contract with the cannery to purchase their product for the war effort, and peace is restored to Landale.

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 12, 1942
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Pacific Films
Distribution Company
Producers Releasing Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 4m
Film Length
5,833ft (6 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although Dick Curtis' character is listed as "Frank Muller" in the screen credits, he is referred to as "Ed" in the film. The picture opens with the following written foreword: "Throughout America there are thousands of Silent Men-men without hope-men who are forever dogged by the grim shadow of their past. All they need is another chance. This is the story of a city that had the vision and courage to try a great experiment and give them that chance. It is too bad we cannot call this city by name, but these people ask nothing more than to be let alone. While the characters and incidents are fictitious, this is a plea for more such cities." Although correspondence from the Los Angeles Board of Review notes that the Pacific Films production company operated out of Talisman Studios, the FDYB lists lists the production company at Fine Arts Studios. The film was rejected for export to "Latin American" countries by the Los Angeles Board of Review, which deemed the lynching scene inappropriate for wartime release.