Invisible Stripes (1939)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 30, 1939 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 82 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Invisible Stripes revisits that old problem: How can an ex-con reform and go straight when decent society keeps stacking the deck against him? Stripes is one of those typical Warner Brothers blends of social conscience and exploitation, a mix that even in its run-of-the-mill exercises the studio did better than any other. The social message of Stripes doesn't go very deep, and it's presented inconsistently, as was often the case with other Warners films, but it does give the film a weight and atmosphere that is well exploited for dramatic effect. While most of the story if predictable, it's told with verve, thanks to the no-nonsense direction of Lloyd Bacon. Bacon doesn't bother with any frills, but he does find time to linger on key moments, including a surprisingly touching dance sequence between George Raft and Flora Robson, the latter playing his mother. Raft is in excellent form as the wanna-be good guy whose meets his challenges with both weariness and anger. Humphrey Bogart is similarly well employed as the gangster who thinks reform is for the birds, and a young William Holden scores as the brother who could go either way.