The Steel Jungle (1956)

86 or 88 mins | Melodrama | 31 March 1956

Director:

Walter Doniger

Writer:

Walter Doniger

Producer:

David Weisbart

Cinematographer:

Peverell Marley

Production Designer:

Leo Kuter

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles of the film were I Died a Thousand Deaths , I Died a Thousand Times , Marked for Life and Handful of Clouds . Walter Doniger's onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Walter Doniger." The character "Lupo" is called "Luke" in studio notes found in the copyright file for the film. Although a cast and crew list found in the production file for the film at AMPAS lists Ted de Corsica's character as "Steve Madden," he is called "Steve Marlin" in the film and in reviews.
       Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, HR news items add the following actors to the cast: Robert Human, Bobby Diamond and Ted McKee. A Jan 1955 HR news item reported that exterior location shots were filmed in downtown Los Angeles, CA. According to a Dec 1954 HR news item, Doniger considered filming at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City. ... More Less

The working titles of the film were I Died a Thousand Deaths , I Died a Thousand Times , Marked for Life and Handful of Clouds . Walter Doniger's onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Walter Doniger." The character "Lupo" is called "Luke" in studio notes found in the copyright file for the film. Although a cast and crew list found in the production file for the film at AMPAS lists Ted de Corsica's character as "Steve Madden," he is called "Steve Marlin" in the film and in reviews.
       Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, HR news items add the following actors to the cast: Robert Human, Bobby Diamond and Ted McKee. A Jan 1955 HR news item reported that exterior location shots were filmed in downtown Los Angeles, CA. According to a Dec 1954 HR news item, Doniger considered filming at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Mar 1956.
---
Daily Variety
29 Feb 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 Feb 56
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jan 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 1955
p. 7, 9.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1955
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1955
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
13 May 1955
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 1955
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1955
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Feb 56
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Mar 56
p. 801.
New York Times
10 Mar 56
p. 9.
Variety
14 Mar 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner-Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Best boy
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Asst props
COSTUMES
SOUND
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
I Died a Thousand Times
Marked for Life
I Died a Thousand Deaths
Handful of Clouds
Release Date:
31 March 1956
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 March 1956
Production Date:
5 January--early February 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 March 1956
Copyright Number:
LP7981
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
86 or 88
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17397
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Ed Novak, a loyal and dutiful member of the Combination crime syndicate, believes the organization will always come to his aid. When he is arrested for bookmaking, the Combination’s lawyer bails him out and pays him a $250 compensation fee. With the money, the happily married Ed buys his pregnant wife Frances a second-hand mink coat, and cannot understand why she rejects the gift upon learning it was bought with “dirty” money. Ed assumes that the Combination will arrange for his acquittal, but at the trial, the judge offers to release him only if he will provide information about the syndicate. As “squealing” on his associates is unthinkable to Ed, he is taken directly to prison. In the prison yard, Ed approaches Steve Marlin, the head of the Combination who has been sentenced for tax evasion and asks for his help in getting released, so that he can be with Frances, who is having a difficult pregnancy. Marlin, who lacks that kind of influence, dismisses him, which provokes Ed to attack. When Marlin’s henchmen begin beating Ed, the prison guards come to his rescue, but he refuses to name his assailants when questioned by Warden Keller. Despite Ed’s stubbornness, Dr. Lewy, the prison psychiatrist, believes the convict is a decent man, especially after learning that Ed’s loyalty to the Combination arose when, as a teenager, the syndicate saved him from an abusive policeman. When Marlin learns from corrupt guard Weaver that Ed refused to testify against him, Marlin invites Ed to the power plant that night for a drink of illegally obtained whiskey to “celebrate.” Ed, using a library ... +


Ed Novak, a loyal and dutiful member of the Combination crime syndicate, believes the organization will always come to his aid. When he is arrested for bookmaking, the Combination’s lawyer bails him out and pays him a $250 compensation fee. With the money, the happily married Ed buys his pregnant wife Frances a second-hand mink coat, and cannot understand why she rejects the gift upon learning it was bought with “dirty” money. Ed assumes that the Combination will arrange for his acquittal, but at the trial, the judge offers to release him only if he will provide information about the syndicate. As “squealing” on his associates is unthinkable to Ed, he is taken directly to prison. In the prison yard, Ed approaches Steve Marlin, the head of the Combination who has been sentenced for tax evasion and asks for his help in getting released, so that he can be with Frances, who is having a difficult pregnancy. Marlin, who lacks that kind of influence, dismisses him, which provokes Ed to attack. When Marlin’s henchmen begin beating Ed, the prison guards come to his rescue, but he refuses to name his assailants when questioned by Warden Keller. Despite Ed’s stubbornness, Dr. Lewy, the prison psychiatrist, believes the convict is a decent man, especially after learning that Ed’s loyalty to the Combination arose when, as a teenager, the syndicate saved him from an abusive policeman. When Marlin learns from corrupt guard Weaver that Ed refused to testify against him, Marlin invites Ed to the power plant that night for a drink of illegally obtained whiskey to “celebrate.” Ed, using a library pass to gain entrance to the area, arrives in time to see Weaver knock out Kadinski, an honest guard who caught Marlin’s men breaking prison rules. After sending Ed away, Lupo, Marlin’s most brutish henchman, uses a transformer to electrocute Kadinski. Although the guard’s death appears accidental, the suspicious Keller arrests Dan Bucci, one of Marlin’s men caught near the murder site, and questions Ed, whose unused library pass looks suspicious. Believing that Ed knows something, Keller tries to pressure him into talking by assigning him to work in the library, a “soft job” which will cause prisoners to speculate that he has betrayed them. Lewy argues to Keller that Ed lives by a code of honor, however misguided, and that his less virtuous colleagues will kill him for what he knows. Keller then explains that he must find and punish Kadinski’s murderer if he is to maintain control of the prison. Although Keller assigns a guard to protect Ed, the guard is later tricked into leaving his post and Ed is lured to the library basement, where Marlin’s men beat him. Although Ed convinces Marlin that he has not betrayed him, Marlin threatens to hurt Frances if he does. After Frances unsuccessfully tries to convince her husband to tell the authorities about the syndicate, Lewy and Keller offer to release Ed for the birth of his child if he agrees to cooperate. Even though Ed knows that Frances is experiencing a precarious pregnancy, he is more worried about her being endangered by the syndicate and refuses to talk. Deciding his only option is to escape with Frances to Mexico, he makes plans to break out and enlists Marlin’s help by threatening to talk. One night, Ed hijacks Lewy and his car at knifepoint and orders him to drive through the prison gate. Near the gate, Lewy abruptly hits his brakes and throws the car keys out of the window. When Ed gets out of the car to retrieve them, Weaver, under orders from Marlin to kill, shoots and injures Ed, claiming afterward that he “suspected” an escape attempt. Lewy denies that Ed was attempting a breakout and takes the injured man to the hospital. There he persuades Ed that the Combination is plotting to kill him. After Lewy promises him confidentiality, Ed reveals all he knows about the syndicate in a letter and seals it in an envelope, which Lewy hides without reading as Ed’s “insurance.” Ed then tells Marlin about the note, which will be delivered to Keller should anything happen to him. Later, two of Marlin’s men pretending to be policemen abduct Frances, whose postman reports her disappearance to the police. After a neighbor describes one of the men as belonging to the syndicate, police detective Lt. Soberman tells Ed about his wife’s disappearance and asks for his help. Afraid to reveal anything, Ed instead confronts Marlin, who threatens to have Frances killed unless Ed turns over the letter. When Ed asks Lewy’s assistance, the psychiatrist agrees to help, now realizing that Ed has been protecting his wife. The following evening, Frances calls Lewy from a pay phone, reporting that she is unharmed, but still being trailed by thugs. Assuming the thugs will harm Frances after she hangs up, Lewy alerts Soberman to send out a police car, sending the thugs scurrying when they hear the siren. Knowing that she is safe, Lewy then delivers the letter to Marlin’s henchman, which Weaver secretly retrieves and destroys. Marlin then takes Ed captive in an unoccupied machine shop, but as he prepares to shoot Ed with a gun, his less callous henchman, Stringbean, protests and is killed by his cohorts. Ed manages to escape his captors and jumps through a glass window into the prison yard where guards rounded up by Keller and Lewy are preparing to rescue him. Among the guards is Weaver, who shoots Ed against Keller’s orders. When the other guards commence shooting at Marlin and his men, Weaver abstains. Marlin, however, assumes Weaver has double-crossed him and shoots him. When Marlin is killed, the remaining thugs surrender. After Frances safely gives birth, Lewy takes the recovered Ed to see her and their newborn son. Hearing from Lewy that his cooperation will result in a shorter sentence, Ed promises that he will then get a “decent job.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.