Subway Express


1h 8m 1931

Film Details

Release Date
May 1, 1931
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Subway Express by Eva Kay Flint and Martha Madison (New York, 24 Sep 1929).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 8m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,254ft (7 reels)

Synopsis

On board an uptown New York subway express car leaving Fourteenth Street are stockbroker Edward Tracy, his wife Dale, and his partner, Paul Borden, who is overly solicitous toward Dale. A drunken youth falls against Dale, and Borden starts a fight with him. A gun shot is heard, and the bullet strikes Borden. He recovers, but Tracy is found dead with a bullet in his chest. Two policemen, including dumb Kearney and loud flatfoot Mulvaney, hold the passengers in the car until Inspector Killian takes charge. The car is taken to 145th Street, where the coroner announces that Tracy died from electrocution, not a gunshot wound. Killian begins to question extensively the suspects, piecing together information and evidence that cast suspicion on several parties. He learns from Mason, a subway worker, that the lethal current would have to have come from the subway's third rail. Killian's suspicions then focus on Borden when he discovers that Borden and Tracy had quarreled earlier in the day over Dale, to whom Tracy behaved harshly. The investigation focuses next on Herman Stevens, a clerk in Tracy's company who had stolen money from his employer's safe. A pair of leather gloves with copper discs in the palms is found, and Killian's questioning of Stevens intensifies when it appears that the gloves may be his. The lights suddenly go out, however, and Stevens is shot. Killian then orders the motorman to take the car over the same tracks it covered at the moment of Tracy's death. Six subway posts are found to have been wired, and Killian theorizes that someone wearing the leather gloves could have killed Tracy by touching him with one hand while holding one of the wired posts with the other. Mason was the only one with access to the tracks, and he confesses that Tracy conceived the murderous scheme in a jealous attempt to kill Borden. Tracy then hired Mason to commit the murder, but his plan was foiled by Mason's love for Tracy's first wife, whom he had mistreated and divorced before marrying Dale. With the subway in darkness, Mason killed Tracy instead of Borden, and later killed Stevens when he suspected that the clerk had discovered his guilt.

Film Details

Release Date
May 1, 1931
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Subway Express by Eva Kay Flint and Martha Madison (New York, 24 Sep 1929).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 8m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,254ft (7 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Variety commented on the fact that the entire film was set in one car of a subway train and included only a few shots from some of the stations, which were reproduced in exacting detail. According to the reviewer, the realistic sets included typical subway advertisements and resulted in a sense of monotony. The New York Times reviewer also applauded the authenticity of the subway scenes.