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Below the Deadline
IMDB Rating: 5.8/10 from APPROVED votes
Release: 08 Jun 1936 /

Below the Deadline

Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance
Director: Charles Lamont,
Stars: , ,
Synopsis: After a good-natured Irish cop is framed for a diamond robbery and murder and presumed dead in a train wreck, he gets plastic surgery and returns to expose the real killers.

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Critic Reviews

This crime film is from a shabby little company called Chesterfield Motion Pictures, a so-called 'Poverty Row' studio that actually just rented space at night at real studios and made super-quick and super-cheap B-movies. With a pedigree like this and mostly no-name actors, you'd assume this film would be crap. Your assumption is wrong. Instead, despite a few minor gripes, it's a dandy little crime film.

When the film begins, Molly (Cecilia Parker) and Terry (Russell Hopton) are planning on getting married. He's a cop and she works for a company that sells high-price jewels. Soon, there is a robbery of her employer and the robbers (in disguise) make it a point to point all the suspicion on Terry. He's been set-up but cannot prove he didn't do it. So, he does what most heroes do in this situation...he goes on the run to prove his innocence. An exciting (though clichéd) thing happens next--the train he's on has a wreck and when Terry awakens, he's badly injured...but has the presence of mind to plan his ID on a dead guy. The police assume the dead mangled guy was Terry and they drop the case. As for Terry, he finds himself in the hospital...and with a completely new face! Now he decides to go back and pose as Terry's brother and see if he can figure out who set him up to take the fall.

While the plot does sound very improbable, the story works well because it's well written. Also, for a cheap B, the acting ain't bad. Although Hopton was NOT a handsome guy by any standard and he looked FAR older than the character was supposed to be, he and the rest of the cast did quite well and I nearly give this film a 7. Very enjoyable despite it being totally ridiculous.

By the way, Hopton never really became a star and died of a drug overdose (ruled a suicide) in 1945. Very sad.

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