Each Dawn I Die: Cagney Shines in Conventional Prison Drama

A generic prison drama, Each Dawn I Die is elevated by the brilliant acting by James Cagney and the fast-paced and hard-edged direction of William Keighley, a Warner contract craftsman.

Cagney plays Frank Ross, an innocent newspaperman who is railroaded into prison by a corrupt district attorney. In prison, he meets a con named Stacey (George Raft).  Initially, Frank keeps to himself, refusing to associate with Stacey and the other prisoners.  However, trapped, like them, in hellish prison life, he turns into a bitter con himself.

Granted a hearing from the parole board, Frank pleads his innocence, but the parole board is headed by Grayce (Victor Jury), the man responsible for his imprisonment. As a result, his parole is denied, and Frank becomes more hardened and embittered—until Stacey, his new friend, helps to prove his innocence.

Running time: 92 min.

Directed by William Keighley

Written by Warren Duff

Released: July 22, 1939.

DVD: March 25, 2008