Knock on Any Door (1949)

98 or 100 mins | Drama | April 1949

Director:

Nicholas Ray

Producer:

Robert Lord

Cinematographer:

Burnett Guffey

Editor:

Viola Lawrence

Production Designer:

Robert Peterson

Production Company:

Santana Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to an 8 Sep 1947 LAEx news item, Willard Motley's novel was first purchased by producer Mark Hellinger, who died on 21 Dec 1947. Motley was a black writer who had been involved with the Federal Writers' Project in Chicago. This was the first production of Santana Pictures, Inc., a company formed by Humphrey Bogart, his business manager, A. Morgan Maree, and producer Robert Lord. The film marked John Derek's first starring role; he had previously had small parts in two other films. The Var review called him "a new bobbysoxer dream and a personality who will click with the femmes, motherly or otherwise." Actor Dewey Martin, who portrayed "Butch," made his motion picture debut in the film, as did John Mitchum (1919--2001), brother of actor Robert Mitchum. Motley subsequently wrote another novel, Let No Man Write My Epitaph , featuring the character of "Nick Romano," that was adapted into film in ... More Less

According to an 8 Sep 1947 LAEx news item, Willard Motley's novel was first purchased by producer Mark Hellinger, who died on 21 Dec 1947. Motley was a black writer who had been involved with the Federal Writers' Project in Chicago. This was the first production of Santana Pictures, Inc., a company formed by Humphrey Bogart, his business manager, A. Morgan Maree, and producer Robert Lord. The film marked John Derek's first starring role; he had previously had small parts in two other films. The Var review called him "a new bobbysoxer dream and a personality who will click with the femmes, motherly or otherwise." Actor Dewey Martin, who portrayed "Butch," made his motion picture debut in the film, as did John Mitchum (1919--2001), brother of actor Robert Mitchum. Motley subsequently wrote another novel, Let No Man Write My Epitaph , featuring the character of "Nick Romano," that was adapted into film in 1960. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Feb 1949.
---
Daily Variety
21 Feb 49
p. 3, 11
Film Daily
21 Feb 49
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 48
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 48
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 49
p. 4.
Los Angeles Examiner
8 Sep 1947.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Mar 1949.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Feb 49
p. 4513-14.
New York Times
23 Feb 49
p. 31.
Variety
23 Feb 49
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
And introducing
Chuck Hamilton
Frank Marlo
Eddie Randolph
Eda Reiss Merin
Dick Bartell
Glen Thompson
Saul Gorss
Phillip Morris
Edwin Parker
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus dir
SOUND
Sd eng
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Knock on Any Door by Willard Motley (New York, 1947).
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1949
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 22 February 1949
Production Date:
2 August--17 September 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Santana Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 February 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2162
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
98 or 100
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When young Nick Romano is arrested for the murder of a policeman during a robbery, he begs lawyer Andrew Morton to defend him. Andy reluctantly agrees to take the case after Nick swears that he is innocent and, although a bartender insists that he saw Nick running away from the scene of the crime, Nick's friends, Sunshine and Butch, confirm his alibi. In his opening speech at the trial, Andy, who left the slums to become a lawyer, tells the jury about Nick's background: Andy met Nick six years earlier after his father was jailed for killing someone in self-defense. Despite Andy's efforts to have him released from jail, Nick's father dies in jail of a heart attack. Because the family now has no income, they are forced to move to a bad neighborhood, and Nick joins some of the other boys in petty thievery. Later, Nick is arrested for stealing a car and is sentenced to a brutal reform school, where his friend dies of pneumonia after being punished. After his release, Nick meets Emma, a poor but respectable girl who lives with her alcoholic aunt, and starts dating her. Eventually, he falls in love with her, but refuses to become involved with her as he does not want to ruin her life. Nick is arrested again, and social worker Adele Patterson begs Andy to help him. Andy befriends Nick, but Nick, feeling resentful about what he believes to be charity, steals money from Andy and angers him. After Nick and Emma marry, Andy again tries to help him go straight, but Nick's quick temper and disreputable background cause him ... +


When young Nick Romano is arrested for the murder of a policeman during a robbery, he begs lawyer Andrew Morton to defend him. Andy reluctantly agrees to take the case after Nick swears that he is innocent and, although a bartender insists that he saw Nick running away from the scene of the crime, Nick's friends, Sunshine and Butch, confirm his alibi. In his opening speech at the trial, Andy, who left the slums to become a lawyer, tells the jury about Nick's background: Andy met Nick six years earlier after his father was jailed for killing someone in self-defense. Despite Andy's efforts to have him released from jail, Nick's father dies in jail of a heart attack. Because the family now has no income, they are forced to move to a bad neighborhood, and Nick joins some of the other boys in petty thievery. Later, Nick is arrested for stealing a car and is sentenced to a brutal reform school, where his friend dies of pneumonia after being punished. After his release, Nick meets Emma, a poor but respectable girl who lives with her alcoholic aunt, and starts dating her. Eventually, he falls in love with her, but refuses to become involved with her as he does not want to ruin her life. Nick is arrested again, and social worker Adele Patterson begs Andy to help him. Andy befriends Nick, but Nick, feeling resentful about what he believes to be charity, steals money from Andy and angers him. After Nick and Emma marry, Andy again tries to help him go straight, but Nick's quick temper and disreputable background cause him to be fired from a succession of jobs. Finally, after Emma reveals that she is pregnant, Nick bitterly advises her to give the baby away. His motto, he tells her, is "live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse." Convinced that Nick no longer loves her, Emma kills herself. A few months later, Nick is charged with murder. Back in the courtroom, the prosecution presents its case, and Andy first casts doubt on the bartender's identification of Nick by proving that his memory is not reliable. He then attacks the credibility of subsequent witnesses. The prosecution then calls Juan Rodriguez, a friend of Nick, who previously stated that Nick had committed the murder. On the witness stand, however, Juan claims that the police threatened him with deportation unless he swore that Nick was guilty. During the defense's presentation, District Attorney Kerman is able to create uncertainty about Nick's ailbi. Andy then calls Nick to the stand. At first, Nick's testimony holds up, but after intense badgering by Kerman, Nick finally breaks down and admits his guilt. Before sentencing, Andy makes one last statement on Nick's behalf, condemning society for his crimes, and begs the court for mercy. Although moved, the judge sentences Nick to death. Before Nick's execution, Andy promises to help other boys like him. +

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

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