Girls on Probation


1h 3m 1938
Girls on Probation

Brief Synopsis

A dizzy young girl falls into crime but wins her lawyer's heart.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Crime
Release Date
Oct 22, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 3m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

Connie Heath is a trusted employee of Todd's Cleaners. Against her strict father's orders, she goes dancing in a borrowed dress that turns out to be one her co-worker Hilda Engstrom took from work. When Gloria Adams, the owner of the dress, presses charges, Connie loses her job. When the insurance lawyer, Neil Dillon, tells her that she will go to jail unless she explains her actions, Connie breaks down and confesses that Hilda actually took the dress, but before Hilda can be arrested, she leaves town. Connie leaves town too, gets a job and makes regular restitution payments to Neil. One day Connie sees Hilda parked in front of the bank and insists that she sign a statement proving Connie's innocence. While they argue, shots ring out and Hilda's boyfriend Tony Rand gets into the car, fleeing the bank he has just robbed. After a chase, the three are arrested, and Connie is held as an accomplice. Connie's lawyer asks for probation, and the sympathetic probation officer, Jane Lennox, manages to get the true story from Connie. She recommends probation and sends Connie home. Neil gives her a job in his office, and they soon fall in love and become engaged. Meanwhile, Hilda has been released from prison and tries to blackmail Connie, forcing her to tell Neil the truth. Knowledge of her probation makes no difference to Neil, but after Tony escapes from prison, Hilda threatens to tell the District Attorney, and thus endanger Neil's career. Connie agrees to pawn her engagement ring to give money to Hilda, but while doing so, she writes a note asking the pawnbroker to call Neil. The police are waitng at Hilda's apartment and in the shootout that follows, Tony is killed. One of his bullets hits Hilda, who dies too after clearing Connie, leaving her free to marry Neil.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Crime
Release Date
Oct 22, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 3m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

Girls on Probation


Connie Heath, the daughter of a strict immigrant father, is an attractive, cheerful teen-ager with an office job and a promising future until her friendship with Hilda, a co-worker, implicates her in a minor theft that gets her fired and creates conflict between her parents. Luckily, Neil Dillon, the lawyer assigned to the case, takes a personal interest in Connie and through agreed restitution payments helps the girl avoid a police record. Connie moves to another town, finds a new job and all is well until she encounters Hilda again outside a bank. Suddenly finds herself in the middle of a bank robbery engineered by Hilda's boyfriend Tony and a hostage of the fleeing couple. Arrested and faced with a prison sentence, Connie is spared from serving time by the judge and a sympathetic probation officer. She is allowed to return home and reestablishes contact with Neil, who offers her a job in his office, a situation that leads to a romance and their engagement. Then Hilda resurfaces and threatens to tell Connie's parents and Neil about her arrest (which was not reported in the papers using her real name) unless Connie helps her in a scheme to aid Tony who has just escaped from prison.

In the tradition of other Warner Bros. productions such as Angels With Dirty Faces and Crime School released the same year, Girls on Probation (1938) was yet another crime drama for the studio that expressed some of Jack Warner's favorite themes: the social conditions that breed lawbreakers, criminal rehabilitation and the pros and cons of the American justice system. Unlike the more prestigious Angels With Dirty Faces, Girls on Probation is a B-movie programmer, directed at breakneck speed by William McGann, and much closer in tone and style to exploitation films such as The Road to Ruin [1934], Damaged Goods [1937], and Enlighten Thy Daughter [1934]. What distinguishes it from others of its ilk is the presence of Jane Bryant in the role of Connie and Ronald Reagan, in one of his early roles, as Neil.

Bryan was an immensely appealing young actress who was being groomed for stardom by Warner Bros. and had already appeared to good advantage in two Bette Davis films, Marked Woman and Kid Galahad [Both 1937]. Bryan, however, abruptly retired from filmmaking in 1940 to marry industrialist Justin Dart, who later became one of Ronald Reagan's trusted business advisors. At the time of Girls on Probation, Reagan was still an up-and-coming contract player at Warners, learning his craft in producer Bryan Foy's B-movie unit. He had already worked with Foy on three films, beginning with his screen debut in Love Is on the Air [1937] and would soon be promoted to leading man status in Foy's serial-like thrillers Secret Service of the Air and Smashing the Money Ring [both 1939].

Girls on Probation is also notable for featuring Susan Hayward in one of her earliest roles. She makes a vivid impression in her brief scenes as Neil's date at a dance where she spots her own designer dress being worn by a girl from the laundry where it was being cleaned. It is her outraged reaction to the temporary theft that turns Connie's life upside down.

Crane Wilbur, who wrote the screenplay for Girls on Probation, was no stranger to the exploitation genre, having penned such films as Tomorrow's Children [1934], On Probation [1935] and Yellow Cargo [1936]. He also paid his dues at Warners, churning out other urban melodramas such as Alcatraz Island [1937], Crime School [1938] and Hell's Kitchen [1939]. Wilbur had also worked as an actor during the silent era and was a dependable B-movie director as well (Canon City [1948], The Bat [1959]).

Producer: Bryan Foy (uncredited)
Director: William McGann
Screenplay: Crane Wilbur
Cinematography: Arthur Todd
Art Direction: Hugh Reticker
Music: Howard Jackson (uncredited)
Film Editing: Frederick Richards
Cast: Jane Bryan (Connie Heath), Ronald Reagan (Neil Dillon), Anthony Averill (Tony Rand), Sheila Bromley (Hilda Engstrom), Henry O'Neill (Judge), Elisabeth Risdon (Kate Heath), Sig Rumann (Roger Heath), Dorothy Peterson (Jane Lennox), Susan Hayward (Gloria Adams), Larry Williams (Terry Mason, Hilda's Date), Arthur Hoyt (Mr. Engstrom).
BW-63m.

by Jeff Stafford

SOURCES: Ronald Reagan in Hollywood: Movies and Politics by Stephen Vaughn (Cambridge University Press)
The Films of Ronald Reagan by Tony Thomas (Citadel Press)
Reagan: The Hollywood Years by Marc Eliot (Harmony Books)
www.afi.com
IMDB
Girls On Probation

Girls on Probation

Connie Heath, the daughter of a strict immigrant father, is an attractive, cheerful teen-ager with an office job and a promising future until her friendship with Hilda, a co-worker, implicates her in a minor theft that gets her fired and creates conflict between her parents. Luckily, Neil Dillon, the lawyer assigned to the case, takes a personal interest in Connie and through agreed restitution payments helps the girl avoid a police record. Connie moves to another town, finds a new job and all is well until she encounters Hilda again outside a bank. Suddenly finds herself in the middle of a bank robbery engineered by Hilda's boyfriend Tony and a hostage of the fleeing couple. Arrested and faced with a prison sentence, Connie is spared from serving time by the judge and a sympathetic probation officer. She is allowed to return home and reestablishes contact with Neil, who offers her a job in his office, a situation that leads to a romance and their engagement. Then Hilda resurfaces and threatens to tell Connie's parents and Neil about her arrest (which was not reported in the papers using her real name) unless Connie helps her in a scheme to aid Tony who has just escaped from prison. In the tradition of other Warner Bros. productions such as Angels With Dirty Faces and Crime School released the same year, Girls on Probation (1938) was yet another crime drama for the studio that expressed some of Jack Warner's favorite themes: the social conditions that breed lawbreakers, criminal rehabilitation and the pros and cons of the American justice system. Unlike the more prestigious Angels With Dirty Faces, Girls on Probation is a B-movie programmer, directed at breakneck speed by William McGann, and much closer in tone and style to exploitation films such as The Road to Ruin [1934], Damaged Goods [1937], and Enlighten Thy Daughter [1934]. What distinguishes it from others of its ilk is the presence of Jane Bryant in the role of Connie and Ronald Reagan, in one of his early roles, as Neil. Bryan was an immensely appealing young actress who was being groomed for stardom by Warner Bros. and had already appeared to good advantage in two Bette Davis films, Marked Woman and Kid Galahad [Both 1937]. Bryan, however, abruptly retired from filmmaking in 1940 to marry industrialist Justin Dart, who later became one of Ronald Reagan's trusted business advisors. At the time of Girls on Probation, Reagan was still an up-and-coming contract player at Warners, learning his craft in producer Bryan Foy's B-movie unit. He had already worked with Foy on three films, beginning with his screen debut in Love Is on the Air [1937] and would soon be promoted to leading man status in Foy's serial-like thrillers Secret Service of the Air and Smashing the Money Ring [both 1939]. Girls on Probation is also notable for featuring Susan Hayward in one of her earliest roles. She makes a vivid impression in her brief scenes as Neil's date at a dance where she spots her own designer dress being worn by a girl from the laundry where it was being cleaned. It is her outraged reaction to the temporary theft that turns Connie's life upside down. Crane Wilbur, who wrote the screenplay for Girls on Probation, was no stranger to the exploitation genre, having penned such films as Tomorrow's Children [1934], On Probation [1935] and Yellow Cargo [1936]. He also paid his dues at Warners, churning out other urban melodramas such as Alcatraz Island [1937], Crime School [1938] and Hell's Kitchen [1939]. Wilbur had also worked as an actor during the silent era and was a dependable B-movie director as well (Canon City [1948], The Bat [1959]). Producer: Bryan Foy (uncredited) Director: William McGann Screenplay: Crane Wilbur Cinematography: Arthur Todd Art Direction: Hugh Reticker Music: Howard Jackson (uncredited) Film Editing: Frederick Richards Cast: Jane Bryan (Connie Heath), Ronald Reagan (Neil Dillon), Anthony Averill (Tony Rand), Sheila Bromley (Hilda Engstrom), Henry O'Neill (Judge), Elisabeth Risdon (Kate Heath), Sig Rumann (Roger Heath), Dorothy Peterson (Jane Lennox), Susan Hayward (Gloria Adams), Larry Williams (Terry Mason, Hilda's Date), Arthur Hoyt (Mr. Engstrom). BW-63m. by Jeff Stafford SOURCES: Ronald Reagan in Hollywood: Movies and Politics by Stephen Vaughn (Cambridge University Press) The Films of Ronald Reagan by Tony Thomas (Citadel Press) Reagan: The Hollywood Years by Marc Eliot (Harmony Books) www.afi.com IMDB

Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 - TCM Remembers Ronald Reagan


Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

Ronald Reagan, the actor turned elected official whose fascinating career saw him develop as a contract player for Warner Brothers studios, to a politician who fulfilled his ambitions by becoming the 40th President of the United States, died at his home in Los Angeles on June 5 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 93.

He was born Ronald Wilson Reagan on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois to John and Nelle Reagan. When Reagan was nine, his family settled down in the small community of Dixon, about 100 miles west of Chicago. After high school, Reagan enrolled in Eureka College, a small Christian school near Peoria. He graduated in 1932 with a degree in Economics, and pursued a career in broadcasting. His first gig was as a part-time announcer at WOC in Davenport, Iowa. Within a year, WOC had merged with its big-sister station, WHO in Des Moines, and Reagan was hired as a sports announcer.

In the spring of 1937, Reagan drove to Southern California to catch the Chicago Cubs in spring training on Santa Catalina Island. While he was in California, he wrangled a screen test and signed a contract for $200 a week with Warner Brothers. His film debut was rather inauspicious; he portrayed a radio announcer in an innocuous comedy Love is on the Air (1937). He made a few more "B" programmers like Hollywood Hotel (also 1937), and Girls on Probation (1938), before getting his first prominent role opposite Bette Davis in the popular tearjerker, Dark Victory (1939).

Although he seldom got credit for being a good actor, there was no denying that Reagan held his own given the right material: Knute Rockne, All American as the doomed Notre Dame football hero George "The Gipper" Gipp, where he delivered the film's immortal line "Win one for the Gipper!"; Santa Fe Trail in which he ably supports Errol Flynn in one of the boxoffice hits of its era (both 1940); Kings Row (1941), featuring one of his finest performances as a small-town playboy whose legs are amputated by a careless surgeon; and Desperate Journey (1942) where he again supported Flynn in an exciting action picture.

Due to his poor eyesight, Reagan didn't see any action in World War II, so the studio heads assigned him to star in a series of patriotic films produced by the First Motion Picture Unit of the Army Air Forces in Culver City. Between 1942-45, Reagan starred in over 400 of these films. After the war, Reagan still found some good roles: The Voice of the Turtle (1947) proved he had a deft hand at light comedy opposite Eleanor Parker; The Hasty Heart (1949) offered another underrated performance as he ably portrayed the Yank in John Patrick's much heralded wartime play; and Storm Warning (1950) was a slick melodrama that cast Reagan as a crusading District Attorney determined to bring the KKK in a small southern town, with the help of Doris Day and Ginger Rogers!

It was around this time that Reagan became involved in politics. In 1947, he began a five-year term as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and testified in October of that year before the newly formed House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He identified suspected Communists Larry Parks, Howard Da Silva and Alexander Knox, all of whom were subsequently called to testify, and subsequently blacklisted. Later records showed Reagan was so concerned about the Communist influence in Hollywood, that he became an FBI informer.

As Reagan became steeped in his political career, his parts throughout the '50s became inferior: the notorious Bedtime for Bonzo (1951); the coy "sex" comedy She's Working Her Way Through College (1952) that cast him as a college professor who romances a stripper! (Virginia Mayo); Cattle Queen of Montana (1955), a sluggish Western that even the redoubtable Barbara Stanwyck couldn't save; and finally Hellcats of the Navy (1957), a stodgy war picture that would be his only film that co-starred his wife Nancy (Davis).

Television offered some salvation. For eight years, (1954-62), Reagan served as the host of General Electric Theater, a televised series of dramas. He also found a niche as GE's goodwill ambassador to employees and to civic and business groups around the country, furthering his taste and honing his craft as a public official. By the mid '60s, Reagan would move into politics entirely, save for one last film, the thrilling The Killers (1964), Reagan's only known villainous role, as a murderous gangster. That same year, he actively campaigned for Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, although Goldwater lost to Lyndon B. Johnson.

Reagan whose profile was riding high, had cemented his future as a successful politician. In 1966, he ran against incumbent Governor Pat Brown for the state of California and won, serving successfully for two terms until 1974.

Reagan began an all-out, two-year drive to wrest the 1976 nomination from incumbent Gerald R. Ford, an appointed vice president who became president on the resignation of Nixon. Reagan fell short by a handful of delegates to the Republican national convention. But Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, and Reagan became the front-runner to challenge Carter in 1980. After defeating Carter, Reagan held two terms as President of the United States (1981-89). After his second term was over, he retired quietly in California. In 1994, it was revealed to the media that Reagan was suffering from Alzheimer's disease; he had been kept out of the public eye since then.

He was married briefly to actress Jane Wyman (1940-48), and had two children; a daughter Maureen and an adopted son, Michael. In 1952, he married a budding film starlet, Nancy Davis, who bore him two more children; a daughter, Patty; and a son, Ronald Jr. Ronald Reagan is survived by Nancy, Michael, Patty and Ron Jr. His daughter Maureen died of Melanoma in 2001 at the age of 60.

by Michael T. Toole

Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 - TCM Remembers Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) Ronald Reagan, the actor turned elected official whose fascinating career saw him develop as a contract player for Warner Brothers studios, to a politician who fulfilled his ambitions by becoming the 40th President of the United States, died at his home in Los Angeles on June 5 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 93. He was born Ronald Wilson Reagan on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois to John and Nelle Reagan. When Reagan was nine, his family settled down in the small community of Dixon, about 100 miles west of Chicago. After high school, Reagan enrolled in Eureka College, a small Christian school near Peoria. He graduated in 1932 with a degree in Economics, and pursued a career in broadcasting. His first gig was as a part-time announcer at WOC in Davenport, Iowa. Within a year, WOC had merged with its big-sister station, WHO in Des Moines, and Reagan was hired as a sports announcer. In the spring of 1937, Reagan drove to Southern California to catch the Chicago Cubs in spring training on Santa Catalina Island. While he was in California, he wrangled a screen test and signed a contract for $200 a week with Warner Brothers. His film debut was rather inauspicious; he portrayed a radio announcer in an innocuous comedy Love is on the Air (1937). He made a few more "B" programmers like Hollywood Hotel (also 1937), and Girls on Probation (1938), before getting his first prominent role opposite Bette Davis in the popular tearjerker, Dark Victory (1939). Although he seldom got credit for being a good actor, there was no denying that Reagan held his own given the right material: Knute Rockne, All American as the doomed Notre Dame football hero George "The Gipper" Gipp, where he delivered the film's immortal line "Win one for the Gipper!"; Santa Fe Trail in which he ably supports Errol Flynn in one of the boxoffice hits of its era (both 1940); Kings Row (1941), featuring one of his finest performances as a small-town playboy whose legs are amputated by a careless surgeon; and Desperate Journey (1942) where he again supported Flynn in an exciting action picture. Due to his poor eyesight, Reagan didn't see any action in World War II, so the studio heads assigned him to star in a series of patriotic films produced by the First Motion Picture Unit of the Army Air Forces in Culver City. Between 1942-45, Reagan starred in over 400 of these films. After the war, Reagan still found some good roles: The Voice of the Turtle (1947) proved he had a deft hand at light comedy opposite Eleanor Parker; The Hasty Heart (1949) offered another underrated performance as he ably portrayed the Yank in John Patrick's much heralded wartime play; and Storm Warning (1950) was a slick melodrama that cast Reagan as a crusading District Attorney determined to bring the KKK in a small southern town, with the help of Doris Day and Ginger Rogers! It was around this time that Reagan became involved in politics. In 1947, he began a five-year term as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and testified in October of that year before the newly formed House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He identified suspected Communists Larry Parks, Howard Da Silva and Alexander Knox, all of whom were subsequently called to testify, and subsequently blacklisted. Later records showed Reagan was so concerned about the Communist influence in Hollywood, that he became an FBI informer. As Reagan became steeped in his political career, his parts throughout the '50s became inferior: the notorious Bedtime for Bonzo (1951); the coy "sex" comedy She's Working Her Way Through College (1952) that cast him as a college professor who romances a stripper! (Virginia Mayo); Cattle Queen of Montana (1955), a sluggish Western that even the redoubtable Barbara Stanwyck couldn't save; and finally Hellcats of the Navy (1957), a stodgy war picture that would be his only film that co-starred his wife Nancy (Davis). Television offered some salvation. For eight years, (1954-62), Reagan served as the host of General Electric Theater, a televised series of dramas. He also found a niche as GE's goodwill ambassador to employees and to civic and business groups around the country, furthering his taste and honing his craft as a public official. By the mid '60s, Reagan would move into politics entirely, save for one last film, the thrilling The Killers (1964), Reagan's only known villainous role, as a murderous gangster. That same year, he actively campaigned for Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, although Goldwater lost to Lyndon B. Johnson. Reagan whose profile was riding high, had cemented his future as a successful politician. In 1966, he ran against incumbent Governor Pat Brown for the state of California and won, serving successfully for two terms until 1974. Reagan began an all-out, two-year drive to wrest the 1976 nomination from incumbent Gerald R. Ford, an appointed vice president who became president on the resignation of Nixon. Reagan fell short by a handful of delegates to the Republican national convention. But Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, and Reagan became the front-runner to challenge Carter in 1980. After defeating Carter, Reagan held two terms as President of the United States (1981-89). After his second term was over, he retired quietly in California. In 1994, it was revealed to the media that Reagan was suffering from Alzheimer's disease; he had been kept out of the public eye since then. He was married briefly to actress Jane Wyman (1940-48), and had two children; a daughter Maureen and an adopted son, Michael. In 1952, he married a budding film starlet, Nancy Davis, who bore him two more children; a daughter, Patty; and a son, Ronald Jr. Ronald Reagan is survived by Nancy, Michael, Patty and Ron Jr. His daughter Maureen died of Melanoma in 2001 at the age of 60. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Writer Crane Wilbur had previously written the scripts for Crime School and Alcatraz Island about men and boys in prison. Carole Landis was listed in the cast before production started, but her participation in the film has not been confirmed. Although the film was viewed, some onscreen credits could not be confirmed.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 27, 1938

b&w

Released in United States Fall October 27, 1938