|CELL 2455, DEATH ROW
(CELLBLOCK) (director: Fred F.
Sears; screenwriter: Jack DeWitt/from the autobiography
of Caryl Chessman; cinematographer: Fred Jackman;
editor: Henry Batista; music: Mischa
Bakaleinikoff; cast: William Campbell
(Whit Whittier), Marian Carr (Doll), Kathryn Grant
(Jo-Anne), Harvey Stephens (Warden), Vince Edwards
(Hamilton), Allen Nourse (Serl Whittier), Diane
DeLaire (Hallie Whittier); Runtime: 77; MPAA
Rating: NR; producer: Wallace MacDonald; Columbia; 1955)
"William Campbell plays the Chessman role as an unsympathetic snarling vicious thug."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
made knockoff film on Caryl Chessman, the
convicted career criminal--thief and Red Light rapist
of lover's lane. Chessman
while in San Quentin became a celebrated "jailhouse
lawyer" who fought off for 12 years his execution with
stays, until he was sent to the gas chamber on May 2,
1960. He also wrote 4 books during his prison time.
The film ends in 1954 when the notorious
Chessman was staving off execution with his appeal,
with the self-taught in prison convicted man acting
as his own attorney. Even though Chessman was never
convicted of murder, he was in
technical violation of "the Little Lindbergh Law"
(named after the 1932 abduction and murder of
aviator Charles Lindbergh's son), which punished
any violent assault by forcible removal with the
death penalty. Because Chessman dragged his
victims from their cars to sexually assault them,
the law, since overturned, enabled the court to
apply the death sentence. It was made again with
more details as an Alan Alda TV movie in 1977 called
'Kill Me, If You Can.'
Director Fred F. Sears ("Don't Knock the Rock"/"Earth vs the Flying Saucers"/"Bonanza Town") is clueless on how to give this flat pic, based on the confession-laden autobiography of Caryl Chessman, any life. To avoid lawsuits, Chessman here is renamed Whit Whittier. His real middle name was Whittier.
Campbell plays the Chessman role as an unsympathetic
snarling vicious thug, who defiantly blames everyone
but himself for his horrible criminal acts until he
writes his books in prison and realizes he has no
one to blame but himself. It shows his behavior
became anti-social when mom was paralyzed in a
traffic accident and dad spent all his savings on
medical bills. Chessman started out stealing
groceries and then cars, and became involved with a
criminal crowd. This led to serving time
in prison and a jailbreak.
film did not appeal to the public, who stayed away in
droves despite Columbia turning out a big publicity
campaign. The flop meant that veteran B film director
Sears would not get a chance to direct A pictures, as
REVIEWED ON 9/8/2012 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ