Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Aug. 1, 2020, Condemned Women
This week’s mystery movie was the 1938 RKO picture “Condemned Women,” with Sally Eilers, Louis Hayward, Anne Shirley, Esther Dale, Lee Patrick, Leona Roberts, George Irving, Richard Bond, Netta Packer, Rita LaRoy and Florence Lake. Musical direction by Roy Webb, photography by Nicholas Musuraca, art direction by Van Nest Polglase and Feild M. Gray, recorded by Earl A. Wolcott, montage by Douglas Travers, edited by Desmond Marquette.

Story and screenplay by Lionel Houser. Produced by Robert Sisk. Directed by Lew Landers.

“Condemned Women” has never been commercially released on VHS or DVD. It last aired on TCM in 2017. Copies of unknown quality are available on the gray market.

Alexa suggested an RKO film and Howard wanted a “women in prison movie” and so here we are: A rarely seen RKO movie about women in prison. It’s an oddball movie with a small role for Jack Carson, and Esther Dale in one of her many, many appearances as a prison matron. I had no idea Dale made so many prison movies – an unintended challenge for the brain trust. And Lee Patrick as the boss lady of the prison? It’s a strange one. Barbara Stanwyck, last seen here in “Forbidden,” turned down the film.

Hollywood Spectator (April 2, 1938) said:

A really good prison picture, this time using a woman’s prison. Exceedingly well directed by Lew Landers. Lacks outstanding box office names, but Sally Eilers gives her best performance to date, and the agreeable Louis Hayward will please your customers. Graphic presentation of prison routine, softened somewhat by well developed romance. More for thoughtful people than for those who take their entertainment on the run. Exploit it for what it is and your people will be satisfied.

Film Daily (March 10, 1938) said:

Meller of ladies in prison hits heavy note without comedy relief.

It seems that this one is too depressing to stack up as ideal entertainment in a world filled with cash customers already weighed down with their own troubles. For the thrill fans, it of course has its appeal with plenty of suspense and a fair amount of excitement. But the idea of the girls in prison staging a jailbreak, with the leader holding a gun, and the matrons also swinging firearms, strikes the spectator odd to say the least. Sally Eilers does the best she can with a tough assignment and that goes for Louis Hayward, Anne Shirley and Lee Patrick.

Writing in the New York Times (April 22, 1938) B.R.C. said:

There are classics in the smaller fields, the same as in the large. Hollywood, especially, is a place of categories, each with its peculiar — oftentimes very peculiar — excellence, and any one who denies it is not only a spy, a wrecker, a saboteur, but slightly quixotic. In the generous spirit of the London Naval Treaty, therefore, we are happy to state that “Condemned Women” at the Rialto, is a first-rate production in the frankly third-rate, or pulpwood, class. It is one of those dubious achievements of which we can cry “Well done!” to everybody except to the person responsible for doing it at all.

Essentially, it is a restatement of the conventional prison picture in terms of the distaff, or to be more accurate, sewing-machine side. And let it be said, to the credit of RKO-Radio, that in spite of the hempen, or homespun, or whatever it is the girls are wearing in stir these days, Sally Eilers and Anne Shirley are still recognizably attractive (they go in for mutual marceling, it appears) and the other dolls — or is it dames? — who really are a bad lot, in marked contrast to Sally and Anne, are not attractive at all. Another realistic feature, by the way, is that the matrons look even tougher than the prisoners.

July 27, 2020, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a mystery gentleman.

July 27, 2020, Mystery Photo

Here’s another shot of our mystery gentleman. His companion has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness.

Update: Here’s the uncropped version of the photo, showing Jack Carson. I’m fairly certain this isn’t Richard Bond, though I gave credit for him.

July 28, 2020, Mystery Photo

For Tuesday, we have a mystery woman.

Update: This is Netta Packer.

July 29, 2020, Mystery Photo

For “Hm Wednesday,” we have these two mystery women, and let me tell you, they do not approve of such goings-on.

Update: This is Esther Dale, left, and Kathryn Sheldon.

July 30, 2020, Mystery Photo

For “Aha Thursday,” we have this mystery woman.

Update: This is Lee Patrick.

Brain Trust roll call: Blackwing Jenny (Wednesday’s mystery prison matron, wrong prison movie), Mary Mallory (Wednesday’s mystery prison matron, wrong prison movie), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and all mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery prison matron), Sheila (Wednesday’s mystery prison matron),  Mike Hawks (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery prison warden and mystery prison matron), Anne Papineau (Wednesday’s mystery prison matron), Gary (Wednesday’s mystery prison matron), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast) and Sylvia E. (Wednesday’s mystery prison matron, wrong prison movie).

July 31, 2020, Mystery Photo

For Friday, we have these mystery guests ….

Update: This is Jack Carson, but I’m not sure about his mystery companion. Here’s a better look at her.

Aug. 1, 2020, Mystery Photo


July 31, 2020, Mystery Photo

And this mystery couple ….

Update: This is Richard Bond and Anne Shirley.

July 31, 2020, Mystery Photo
Romance behind bars? Our mystery matron does not approve of such goings-on.

Update: This is Kathryn Sheldon again.

July 31, 2020, Mystery Photo


Update: This is Sally Eilers and Louis Hayward.

Brain Trust roll call: Thom and Megan (Wednesday’s mystery prison matron and Thursday’s mystery prison boss lady), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery prison boss lady), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery prison boss lady), Suzanne A. Stone (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery prison boss lady), Beachgal (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery prison matron, Gary (mystery movie), Sylvia E. (mystery movie and all mystery guests) and Sheila (Thursday’s mystery prison boss lady).

Note to Sylvia: Yes, she played an amazing number of prison matrons. I had no idea until I started checking. There ought to be a book there someplace: “The Prison Movies of E.D.”

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1938, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. B.J. Merholz says:

    Now that’s a hat!


  2. Sheila says:

    Henry Wadsworth?


  3. gary says:

    Bing Crosby`s stand in.


  4. Anne Papineau says:

    Robert Taylor’s half-brother Beto Brugh??


  5. Sylvia E. says:

    It’s great how you set these up.

    Monday hints at not only a guy on a ship of some kind, but the “cropped for insufficient mysteriousness” person seems to be a woman in a very spectacular hat (that we only see the tip of in image #2)

    Tuesday has an anxious woman on the witness stand. So, did something terrible happen on the ship, I wonder???

    I have no idea yet about anything, but the images make my imagination just run away.


  6. Matron #1 is Esther Dale, in—“Betrayed Women”?


  7. Mary Mallory says:

    6000 Enemies and Esther Dale.


  8. Chrisbo says:

    Wedesday: Clara Blandick on the right?


  9. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Monday: Richard Bond
    Tuesday: Netta Packer
    Wednesday: Esther Dale, Kathryn Sheldon


  10. B.J. Merholz says:

    Could be Esther Dale in Condemned Women


  11. Sheila says:

    Esther Dale as nurse-on-the-left on Wednesday.


  12. mike hawks says:

    George Irivng and Esther Dale in CONDEMNED WOMEN.


  13. mike hawks says:

    oops! kindly correct my spelling to George Irving.


  14. Anne Papineau says:

    One of the greats … Esther Dale!


  15. gary says:

    This would be Esther Dale.


  16. LC says:

    Condemned Women (1938) w/Sally Eilers, Louis Hayward, Esther Dale, Richard Bond, Lee Patrick, Anne Shirley,…


  17. Sylvia E. says:

    I’m going to guess that the movie is “Women Without Names” 1940, since I think the ‘look’ is 1940.

    Other prison films that have Esther Dale (today’s prison matron #1 I think) in the cast seem to early.


  18. Mary Mallory says:

    Is that King Mojave on Monday with Spencer Tracy hidden?


  19. Thom and Megan says:

    Our mystery movie is Condemned Women with Lee Patrick for today, and Esther Dale on Wednesday.


  20. Mary Mallory says:

    6000 Enemies. John Aylesworth, Helena Phillips Evans on Tuesday, Grant Mitchell yesterday, and Rita Johnson today.,


  21. Sylvia E. says:

    Okay. Is it “Convicted Woman” 1940 then? Sheesh… How many ‘women’s prison’ movies was Esther Dale in???


  22. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Lee Patrick.


  23. mike hawks says:

    Lee Patrick.


  24. suzanne a. stone says:

    Esther Dale in 1938’s “Condemned Women” with Lee Patrick?


  25. beachgal says:

    Wed shows prison matron Esther Dale. I think the movie night be Condemned Women. The other matron might be Grace Cunard.


  26. beachgal says:

    Thurs looks like Anne Shirley.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. beachgal says:

    Monday must be Louis Hayward.


  28. beachgal says:

    Is Tues Rita LaRoy?


  29. gary says:

    Condemed Women.


  30. Sylvia E. says:

    Whew! “Condemned Women” 1938
    Mon. – I think this is Richard Bond – but in online images he looks different in each one, so just a guess.
    Tues. – I think is Grace Cunard, but I’m not sure.
    Weds. – Esther Dale and Kathryn Sheldon are the matrons and the foreground warden is George Irving
    Thurs. – Lee Patrick (I had to laugh – it’s very hard to think of her as “Big Annie”, the toughest dame in prison.)
    Fri. – I’m guessing will have Sally Ellers, Anne Shirley and Louis Hayward.

    This was fun and I learned more about the drama of women’s prisons than anyone will ever know. Esther Dale must have had a personal wardrobe filled with ‘prison matron’ outfits, so was hired again and again in these roles.


  31. Sylvia E. says:

    For Friday, I meant Sally Eilers, not ‘Ellers’


  32. Sylvia E. says:

    An alternate guess for Tuesday. Is she Netta Packer?


  33. Sheila says:

    Lee Patrick for Thursday.


  34. Mary Mallory says:

    I would not call Louis Hayward someone of insufficient mysteriousness. I totally dropped this movie because of that and went for something with Spencer Tracy, etc. because whille I know who he is, he’s not famous like Tracy, Menjou, etc. CONDEMNED WOMEN. Netta Packer Tuesday, Kathryn Sheldon and George Iriving Wednesday, Lee Patrick Thursday, Jack Carson, Grace cunard, Anne Shirley and Richard Bond, and Sally Eilers and Louis Hayward today.


  35. Sue Slutzky says:

    Condemned Women, 1938


  36. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Vivien Oakland, Jack Carson; Richard Bond, Anne Shirley; Leona Roberts; Sally Eilers, Louis Hayward.


  37. beachgal says:

    Fri. #1 Jack Carson
    #2 Sally Eilers and Richard Bond
    #3 Grace Cunard
    #4 Sally Eilers and Lewis Hayward


  38. beachgal says:

    Thurs is Lee Patrick


  39. mike hawks says:

    Jack Carson, Richard Bond,Anne Shirley, Sally Eilers and Louis Hayward.


  40. Benito says:

    I spy Jack Carson! PS here’s CHAINED HEAT, “the Citizen Kane of women-in-prison movies”, with a great cast:


  41. Sylvia E. says:

    Friday image #1 – Jack Carson is the guy. I think the woman is Vivien Oakland, but I’m not sure
    Image #2 – Richard Bond and Anne Shirley
    Image #3 – Kathryn Sheldon
    Image #4 – Sally Eilers and Louis Hayward

    Again, this was a fun one. Looking forward to Saturday


  42. Mary Mallory says:

    Monday guy definitely not Richard Bond, unless he had plastic surgery between this scene and the scenes he did with Anne Shirley.


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