Experiment Alcatraz (1950)

57-58 mins | Drama | 21 November 1950

Director:

Edward L. Cahn

Writer:

Orville Hampton

Producer:

Edward L. Cahn

Cinematographer:

Jackson Rose

Editor:

Philip Cahn

Production Designer:

Boris Leven

Production Company:

Crystal Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Delayed Action . Credits on the viewed print differ from those in the cutting continuity, which was deposited with the copyright records on 23 Nov 1950. On the viewed print, Crystal Productions, Inc. is listed as copyright claimant, while in the Copyright Catalog and the cutting continuity, RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. is listed as claimant. The viewed print includes character names in the cast and credits for wardrobe, script supervisor and props. Makeup artist Ted Larsen's name was misspelled as Frank Larson in the cutting continuity, but was correctly spelled on the viewed print. Actor Lewis Martin's name, however, was correctly spelled in the cutting continuity, but was misspelled as "Louis" in the viewed print. On the viewed print, Joan Dixon's credit includes the adjoinder, "Courtesy RKO Radio Pictures, Inc," while composer Irving Gertz's credit is expanded to read "Music written and directed by." Voice-over narration opens and closes the film.
       According to the SAB , RKO purchased an original screenplay by George W. George and George F. Slavin, who stipulated in their contracts that their onscreen story credit read, "from a screenplay by." Although HR lists Kippee Valez in the cast, her participation in the final film has not been confirmed. A 27 Jul 1950 HR news item announced that additional scenes featuring Lewis Martin were to be shot. No confirmation that those scenes were ever filmed has been found, however. Modern sources note that RKO bought Experiment Alcatraz from Crystal Productions for ... More Less

The working title of this film was Delayed Action . Credits on the viewed print differ from those in the cutting continuity, which was deposited with the copyright records on 23 Nov 1950. On the viewed print, Crystal Productions, Inc. is listed as copyright claimant, while in the Copyright Catalog and the cutting continuity, RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. is listed as claimant. The viewed print includes character names in the cast and credits for wardrobe, script supervisor and props. Makeup artist Ted Larsen's name was misspelled as Frank Larson in the cutting continuity, but was correctly spelled on the viewed print. Actor Lewis Martin's name, however, was correctly spelled in the cutting continuity, but was misspelled as "Louis" in the viewed print. On the viewed print, Joan Dixon's credit includes the adjoinder, "Courtesy RKO Radio Pictures, Inc," while composer Irving Gertz's credit is expanded to read "Music written and directed by." Voice-over narration opens and closes the film.
       According to the SAB , RKO purchased an original screenplay by George W. George and George F. Slavin, who stipulated in their contracts that their onscreen story credit read, "from a screenplay by." Although HR lists Kippee Valez in the cast, her participation in the final film has not been confirmed. A 27 Jul 1950 HR news item announced that additional scenes featuring Lewis Martin were to be shot. No confirmation that those scenes were ever filmed has been found, however. Modern sources note that RKO bought Experiment Alcatraz from Crystal Productions for $100,000. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Dec 1950.
---
Daily Variety
22 Nov 50
p. 4.
Film Daily
1 Dec 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 50
p. 4, 12
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 50
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 50
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Dec 50
p. 598-9.
Variety
22 Nov 50
p. 8.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Delayed Action
Release Date:
21 November 1950
Production Date:
5 May--mid May 1950 at General Service Studios
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
23 November 1950
Copyright Number:
LP539
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
57-58
Length(in feet):
5,253
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14571
SYNOPSIS

After five inmates of northern California's Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary volunteer for a dangerous medical experiment, they are transferred to a military hospital. The convicts, who have been promised their unconditional release upon completion of the test, are first injected with a metallic substance and then exposed to radioactive isotopes. The test, which will lead to a hoped-for cure for a fatal blood disease, is conducted without apparent incident. Later, however, one of the volunteers, racketeer Barry Morgan, grabs a pair of scissors that have fallen out of nurse Lt. Joan McKenna's pocket and stabs his best friend, Eddie Ganz, to death. After Morgan's violence is declared a side effect of the testing, the experiment is canceled, and Joan is forced to resign. That same day, a distressed Dr. Ross Williams, the creator of the test, arrives at the hospital and is introduced to Joan's wheelchair-bound brother Dick, who suffers from the fatal blood disease. Moved by Dick's encouraging words, Ross determines to investigate the Alcatraz experiment to deduce why it failed. Ross is baffled by Joan's description of Morgan's sudden fit of violence, and after asking Dr. J. P. Finley, the sympathetic administrator of the test, to delay the destruction of the isotopes, he pays a visit to Assistant District Attorney Walton. Although Walton insists that the case has been closed, he directs Ross to Morgan's casino. Morgan refuses to allow Ross to examine him, however, and is indifferent to the doctor's pleas for compassion. After Morgan arranges for him to win at the roulette wheel, Ross is beaten up by one of Morgan's thugs. Sure that Morgan is hiding something, Ross takes ... +


After five inmates of northern California's Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary volunteer for a dangerous medical experiment, they are transferred to a military hospital. The convicts, who have been promised their unconditional release upon completion of the test, are first injected with a metallic substance and then exposed to radioactive isotopes. The test, which will lead to a hoped-for cure for a fatal blood disease, is conducted without apparent incident. Later, however, one of the volunteers, racketeer Barry Morgan, grabs a pair of scissors that have fallen out of nurse Lt. Joan McKenna's pocket and stabs his best friend, Eddie Ganz, to death. After Morgan's violence is declared a side effect of the testing, the experiment is canceled, and Joan is forced to resign. That same day, a distressed Dr. Ross Williams, the creator of the test, arrives at the hospital and is introduced to Joan's wheelchair-bound brother Dick, who suffers from the fatal blood disease. Moved by Dick's encouraging words, Ross determines to investigate the Alcatraz experiment to deduce why it failed. Ross is baffled by Joan's description of Morgan's sudden fit of violence, and after asking Dr. J. P. Finley, the sympathetic administrator of the test, to delay the destruction of the isotopes, he pays a visit to Assistant District Attorney Walton. Although Walton insists that the case has been closed, he directs Ross to Morgan's casino. Morgan refuses to allow Ross to examine him, however, and is indifferent to the doctor's pleas for compassion. After Morgan arranges for him to win at the roulette wheel, Ross is beaten up by one of Morgan's thugs. Sure that Morgan is hiding something, Ross takes Joan to Alcatraz and questions inmate Max Henry, an acquaintance of Morgan and Ganz, about the convicts' friendship. Henry reveals that he, Morgan and Ganz were involved in an attempted escape at Leavenworth Penitentiary, and were sent to Alcatraz together. As Ross and Joan are about to leave the prison, Henry shows them his postcard collection, which includes a card from Lake Tahoe, addressed to Ganz and signed "Ethel." While Ross and Joan head for Tahoe, Morgan hears about their visit to Alcatraz and sends his partner, Duke Shaw, to trail them. In Tahoe, Ross and Joan find out from a real estate agent where the house pictured in Henry's postcard is located and where the owner, Ethel Ganz, works. When Ross tries to talk with Ethel, however, he is knocked out by Duke and two thugs and dumped in the woods. Later, while Ross telephones Finley to ask for another delay in the destruction of the isotopes, Joan tracks down Ethel. Ethel reveals to Joan and Ross that, before going to prison, Ganz, her stepfather, hid $250,000 in stolen money in their old summer house. After Ethel takes him to the remote house, Ross speculates that Morgan knew about the money and, as soon as he found out its location, killed Ganz. Suddenly drawing a gun on the doctor, Ethel confirms Ross's theory, adding that she found the money after months of searching. At that moment, Morgan arrives with his thugs and reveals that he is married to Ethel and that they plotted Ganz's murder together. Morgan tries to convince Ross to give up his pursuit, but Ross refuses to back down and is shot and killed by the ex-convict. Later, however, Finley tricks Morgan into exposing himself by pretending to radiate him with the isotopes and then accusing him of the crimes. When Morgan tries to strangle Finley in the hospital, he is caught by Walton, who, upon hearing of the phony test, arrests him for murder. With his research now verified, Ross is honored posthumously for his selfless courage, and Joan happily anticipates Dick's full recovery. +

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.