This tautly constructed little movie should serve as a model for those modern film authors who cannot unfold the simplest story line in less than two hours.
The movie opens with Mary Kirk being led from her cell to ...展开walk to the death chamber. She leaves a letter for Charles Finch, a psychologist and criminologist. In it she has outlined the events which led to her situation. We then see Finch reading the letter to a small group of reporters, supplementing it with an account of his own involvement in the affair. His first person narrative alternates with flashback depiction of the events. Half way into the movie he has reached the point at which Mary was convicted and sentenced to death. The next 20 minutes cover his subsequent efforts to find the evidence which will clear her. He still has not succeeded by the time we have caught up to the opening of the movie and see Mary finish her walk to the electric chair. The remaining few minutes are a desperate race against the clock played more or less in real time.
The movie does not waste an inch of film. Every scene conveys information and advances the action, with smooth and skillful links. Particularly effective is the way in which the character of Mary's younger sister, Suzy, is handled. Her appearances are almost always incidental to the main action, but as the movie progresses it becomes clear that she is somehow central to the solution.
The nature of the plot means that the title character plays a passive rather than an active role. Jean Parker is persuasive in the part, wisely forgoing the opportunities for melodramatics. Marcia Mae Jones' porcelain-doll prettiness frequently led to her being cast as a vain and foolish little madam, and her role here as Suzy suits her talents. Lionel Atwill makes a convincing sleuth, neatly conveying a blend of scientific detachment, humanitarian concern, and an occasional twinkle of humour.
Anybody who thinks that "first class B movie" is an oxymoron should study this film and learn better.