The one-time-only combination of director John Ford and actors Spencer Tracy (in his first film) and Humphrey Bogart (in his second) should be recommendation enough for the offbeat comedy-drama Up the River. Tracy and Warren Hymer play Saint Louis and Dannemora Dan, two hard-boiled but likeable prison convicts. While in stir, the boys befriend another convict named Steve (Bogart), who is in love with woman's-prison inmate Judy (Claire Luce). Eventually, Steve and Judy are released, whereupon they get married and head to a small town where no one knows of their criminal pasts. It isn't long, however, before the couple's future happiness is threatened by dishonest salesman Frosby (Gaylord Pendleton), the no-good rat who framed Judy. Frosby threatens to expose Steve's prison record if the latter refuses to go along with a scheme to defraud his neighbors. Learning of this situation, Saint Louis and Dan escape from jail, foil Frosby's scheme, and return behind bars just in time to play in a prison all-star baseball game! Nonsensical to say the least, Up the River is also a film that's hard to dislike. It was remade by 20th Century-Fox in 1938, with Preston S. Foster and Tony Martin respectively in the Tracy and Bogart roles.
by Hal Erickson synopsis