20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932)

77 or 81 mins | Drama | 24 December 1932

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Cinematographer:

Barney McGill

Editor:

George Amy

Production Designer:

Anton Grot

Production Company:

First National Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Author Lewis E. Lawes was warden of Sing Sing Prison for many years and allowed the filmmakers to shoot scenes inside the prison, including mob scenes. He wrote another book, entitled Life and Death in Sing Sing (Garden City, NY, 1928), about his prison experiences. According to production reports in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library, the film took thirty days to shoot and was made for a total cost of $215,000. According to modern sources, James Cagney was first choice for the role of Tommy Connors, but when a salary dispute kept Cagney from playing the part, Tracy was cast in the lead. Shots of the exterior of Sing Sing were intercut with studio recreations, according to modern sources. Modern sources list as additional cast members: Rockcliffe Fellows , Lucille Collins, Clarence Wilson and James Donlan. The film was remade by First National as Castle on the Hudson in 1940 (see ... More Less

Author Lewis E. Lawes was warden of Sing Sing Prison for many years and allowed the filmmakers to shoot scenes inside the prison, including mob scenes. He wrote another book, entitled Life and Death in Sing Sing (Garden City, NY, 1928), about his prison experiences. According to production reports in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library, the film took thirty days to shoot and was made for a total cost of $215,000. According to modern sources, James Cagney was first choice for the role of Tommy Connors, but when a salary dispute kept Cagney from playing the part, Tracy was cast in the lead. Shots of the exterior of Sing Sing were intercut with studio recreations, according to modern sources. Modern sources list as additional cast members: Rockcliffe Fellows , Lucille Collins, Clarence Wilson and James Donlan. The film was remade by First National as Castle on the Hudson in 1940 (see above). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
11 Jan 33
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 32
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
5 Nov 32
p. 44.
New York Times
10 Jan 33
p. 26.
Variety
28 Oct 1932.
---
Variety
17 Jan 33
p. 26.
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 December 1932
Copyright Claimant:
First National Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
23 December 1932
Copyright Number:
LP3522
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
77 or 81
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Tommy Connors, a cocky tough guy, is sent to Sing Sing but is confident that he will not have to follow the rules of prison life. When his smooth lawyer, Joe Finn, tries unsuccessfully to bribe warden Paul Long, however, it becomes clear that Connors is now just another number. Connors and Long battle in a contest of wills, in which Long practices his modern theories of reform. Long begins to see results when Connors does not participate in an escape attempt designed by educated convict Bud Sauders. Eventually, Long puts his honor system to the test when he trusts Connors outside the walls. Hoping to help, Connors' girl friend, Fay Wilson, makes friends with Finn, but when he attacks her during an automobile trip, she jumps from the car and is badly injured. Long allows Connors to visit Fay, who is critically ill, but upon discovering that Finn is responsible for her injuries, he initiates a fight. Fay shoots and kills Finn, but it is Connors who is convicted for the murder. After Fay recovers, Connors is sentenced to death, and the couple is briefly reunited on death row. Fay attempts to confess her crime to Long, but her pleas are in vain. Connors is left alone to face the electric chair, asking only for one last ... +


Tommy Connors, a cocky tough guy, is sent to Sing Sing but is confident that he will not have to follow the rules of prison life. When his smooth lawyer, Joe Finn, tries unsuccessfully to bribe warden Paul Long, however, it becomes clear that Connors is now just another number. Connors and Long battle in a contest of wills, in which Long practices his modern theories of reform. Long begins to see results when Connors does not participate in an escape attempt designed by educated convict Bud Sauders. Eventually, Long puts his honor system to the test when he trusts Connors outside the walls. Hoping to help, Connors' girl friend, Fay Wilson, makes friends with Finn, but when he attacks her during an automobile trip, she jumps from the car and is badly injured. Long allows Connors to visit Fay, who is critically ill, but upon discovering that Finn is responsible for her injuries, he initiates a fight. Fay shoots and kills Finn, but it is Connors who is convicted for the murder. After Fay recovers, Connors is sentenced to death, and the couple is briefly reunited on death row. Fay attempts to confess her crime to Long, but her pleas are in vain. Connors is left alone to face the electric chair, asking only for one last cigarette. +

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.