Women Without Names


1h 2m 1940

Brief Synopsis

Construction engineer Fred MacNeil (Robert Paige) meets waitress Joyce King (Ellen Drew) at a hamburger stand and she accepts his invitation to see her home. Joyce is unaware she is being trailed by two detectives on the trail of her former husband, Walter Ferris (John McGuire). Joyce tells Fred that her ex-husband is a wanted criminal, but Fred waves aside her objections and they make plans to marry and honeymoon in Tennessee. Following the wedding, they return to the house after Ferris, accompanied by Peggy Athens (Judith Barrett), has broken in. Caught by Detective Reardon (Thomas E. Jackson), Ferris kills the officer and escapes. McNeil and Joyce arrive immediately afterwards and are accused of the killing by the neighbors. John Marlin (John Miljan), assistant District Attorney, railroads the lovers because he wants to use their prosecution to boost his drive for the District Attorney post.Fred is sentenced to hang and Joyce is given life in prison.

Film Details

Also Known As
Strange Money, Women Behind Bars
Release Date
Mar 15, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the unpublished and unproduced play Ladies of the Big House by Ernest Booth, (copyrighted 9 Mar 1931).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 2m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

Fred MacNeil, a construction engineer who is new in town, drives up to Pete's Drive-in and is enchanted with the waitress, Joyce King. Later, they take a motorboat ride on a lake, and "Mac" tells her he is being sent to Tennessee and wants to marry her. Joyce confesses she is a divorcee and has been in prison because of her husband, but this does not matter to Fred, and they marry. Walter Ferris, Joyce's ex-husband, returns, followed by a vengeful former moll, Peggy Athens. When they are caught in Joyce's apartment by policeman Ken Reardon, Ferris shoots him, leaving the newlyweds to find the corpse. The couple's conviction is brought about through the machinations of aggressive assistant district attorney John Marlin as part of his campaign for the top job. At the office of Warden Rynex, the couple is separated: Joyce is sent to the women's prison, and Mac is sent to the death house to await execution. Peggy, also imprisoned, spitefully starts a fight with Joyce, who does not know who she is, and allows Joyce to be blamed. When Joyce is sent to isolation in the cell block, her friends, Ruffles McWade, Ivory and the "Countess" ostracize Peggy until she confesses that Ferris shot Reardon. Meanwhile, Marlin's campaign is floundering, so his manager, Hugh Gilman, turns to the issue of prison laxity to win votes. They arrange with a matron named Mrs. Lowry and Grimley, a guard who is jealous of Lennox, to allow Mac and Joyce to momentarily meet for a newspaper photograph. Peggy later shows Joyce the headline, "Our Prisons Pamper Killers, Marlin Charges." Mac's cellmate is executed, and he is to hang the next day. Peggy confesses to Joyce, and she is sent to Marlin, but he refuses to believe her. Joyce pulls the warden's gun on Marlin, and she and Peggy follow him out. After a chase and an automobile accident, Joyce and Peggy get their story to the newspaper. Peggy stages a meeting with Ferris, and the police hear him admit to the killing of Reardon, and he is taken into custody. Joyce and Mac then leave in their trailer for a honeymoon trip to Tennessee.

Cast

Ellen Drew

Joyce King MacNeil

Robert Paige

Fred MacNeil

Judith Barrett

Peggy Athens

John Miljan

Assistant District Attorney John Marlin

Fay Helm

Millie

John Mcguire

Walter Ferris

Louise Beavers

Ivory

James Seay

O'Grane

Esther Dale

Head Matron Inglis

Marjorie Main

Mrs. Lowry

Virginia Dabney

Ruffles McWade

Audrey Maynard

Maggie

Kitty Kelly

Countess Marie Duvarre

Helen Lynch

Susie

Mae Busch

Rose

Frank M. Thomas

Warden Rynex

Charles Williams

Hugh Gilman

Cliff Clark

Pete

Thomas E. Jackson

Detective-Sergeant Ken Reardon

Joseph Sawyer

Principal Keeper Grimley

Charles Waldron

Curtis Lawson

Ed Le Saint

Priest

Wilfred Lucas

Roomer

Dick Elliott

Roomer

Ruth Warren

Roomer

Harry Worth

Trailer salesman

Lillian Elliott

Mrs. Anthony

Cy Kendall

Guard

Weldon Heyburn

Guard

James Flavin

Guard

Dick Rush

Guard

Brenda Fowler

Mrs. Turner

Edward Marr

Photographer

Calla Birge

1st inmate--cell block

Barbara Leonard

2nd inmate--cell block

Greta Granstedt

Woman in next cell

Bert Roach

Ogrim

Walter Fenner

Physician

George Anderson

Juror

Henry Roquemore

Juror

John Harmon

Juror

Arthur Aylsworth

Juror

Leila Mcintyre

1st woman juror

Helen Mackellar

2nd woman juror

Mary Gordon

3rd woman juror

Garry Owen

Reporter

Jimmie Dundee

Reporter

Eddie Fetherston

Reporter

Allen Fox

Reporter

Ralph Mccullough

Reporter

Allen Connor

Reporter

Jack Egan

Reporter

Paul Kruger

Reporter

Sam Ash

Man at phone

Charles Mcavoy

Police officer

James Kelso

Plainclothesman Thomas

Wilfred Roberts

Clerk

Douglas Kennedy

Secretary

Blanche Rose

Jail matron

John Dilson

Sheriff

Edwin Brian

Newsboy

Bill Cartledge

Newsboy

Film Details

Also Known As
Strange Money, Women Behind Bars
Release Date
Mar 15, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the unpublished and unproduced play Ladies of the Big House by Ernest Booth, (copyrighted 9 Mar 1931).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 2m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

Ellen Drew, 1914-2003


Ellen Drew, a talented leading lady who was adept at handling light comedy or noirish thrillers, died of liver failure at her home on December 3rd in Palm Desert, California. She was 89.

She was born Esther Loretta "Terry" Ray on November 23, 1914, in Kansas City, Missouri. The daughter of a barber, her family moved to Chicago when she was still an infant and she lived a very quiet childhood far removed from the glamour of Hollywood. She was encouraged by some friends to enter a beauty contest when she was just 17. After winning, she tried her luck in Hollywood, but found that they were no immediate offers for her particular talents.

She eventually took a waitressing job at C.C. Brown's, a famed Hollywood Boulevard soda fountain, and had virtually abandoned her dreams as a starlet when William Demarest, a popular actor's agent and well-known character actor, spotted her. Demarest arranged a screen test for her at Paramount, and she was promptly placed under contract for $50 a week.

For the first few years, (1936-38), Drew got only bit parts, and was often uncredited. When she finally got prominent billing in the Bing Crosby musical Sing You Sinners (1938), she decided to change her name, from Terry Ray to Ellen Drew. She earned her first major role in Frank Lloyd's If I Were King (1938) opposite Ronald Colman, yet for the most part of her career, rarely rose above "B" material and second leads. Still, she had some fine exceptions: Preston Sturges' enchanting comedy Christmas in July (1940), with Dick Powell; Tay Garnett's lighthearted war romp My Favorite Spy (1942) co-starring Kay Kyser; Julien Duvivier's taut The Imposter (1944), holding her own with a brooding Jean Gabin; and Mark Robson's chilling low-budget chiller Isle of the Dead (1945) opposite Boris Karloff. Drew made some notable television appearances in the late '50s including Perry Mason and The Barbara Stanwyck Show, before retiring from the entertainment industry. She is survived by her son David; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole
Ellen Drew, 1914-2003

Ellen Drew, 1914-2003

Ellen Drew, a talented leading lady who was adept at handling light comedy or noirish thrillers, died of liver failure at her home on December 3rd in Palm Desert, California. She was 89. She was born Esther Loretta "Terry" Ray on November 23, 1914, in Kansas City, Missouri. The daughter of a barber, her family moved to Chicago when she was still an infant and she lived a very quiet childhood far removed from the glamour of Hollywood. She was encouraged by some friends to enter a beauty contest when she was just 17. After winning, she tried her luck in Hollywood, but found that they were no immediate offers for her particular talents. She eventually took a waitressing job at C.C. Brown's, a famed Hollywood Boulevard soda fountain, and had virtually abandoned her dreams as a starlet when William Demarest, a popular actor's agent and well-known character actor, spotted her. Demarest arranged a screen test for her at Paramount, and she was promptly placed under contract for $50 a week. For the first few years, (1936-38), Drew got only bit parts, and was often uncredited. When she finally got prominent billing in the Bing Crosby musical Sing You Sinners (1938), she decided to change her name, from Terry Ray to Ellen Drew. She earned her first major role in Frank Lloyd's If I Were King (1938) opposite Ronald Colman, yet for the most part of her career, rarely rose above "B" material and second leads. Still, she had some fine exceptions: Preston Sturges' enchanting comedy Christmas in July (1940), with Dick Powell; Tay Garnett's lighthearted war romp My Favorite Spy (1942) co-starring Kay Kyser; Julien Duvivier's taut The Imposter (1944), holding her own with a brooding Jean Gabin; and Mark Robson's chilling low-budget chiller Isle of the Dead (1945) opposite Boris Karloff. Drew made some notable television appearances in the late '50s including Perry Mason and The Barbara Stanwyck Show, before retiring from the entertainment industry. She is survived by her son David; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film's early working titles were Strange Money and Women Behind Bars. Ernest Booth's play also served as the basis for Paramount's 1932 Ladies of the Big House. Louise Beavers also portrayed "Ivory" in that film.