Cell 2455, Death Row (1955) Movie Script

(dramatic orchestral music)
- [Narrator] Cell 2455, Death Row.
This is the autobiography
of a condemned criminal,
a book brilliantly written
That has appeared high on
the list of best-sellers.
A book that openly confesses
the many crimes committed
by the most notorious juvenile
delinquent in recent years.
A book written against a date with death
In San Quentin Penitentiary, California.
This is the living room of 4,000 convicts.
These are the bedrooms.
Men live here, year in and
year in out, counting the days,
hoping for parole.
But for those inside this cell
block, there's little hope.
For this is death row.
(ominous music)
This cell 2455, the date is July 29, 1954.
(bell rings)
(elevator hums)
- 50 times I've heard that elevator
take men on their last ride.
And I'm next.
(footsteps pound)
(plank thuds)
- [Warden] I want to have
a last chat with you alone.
You got everything in order?
- Yeah, I think so.
It's a simple will.
I'm gonna leave the proceeds of the book
To a couple of fatherless
boys and their mother.
That way she won't have to work
and let 'em run the streets.
- And, uh--
- I wanna be cremated.
And after that, oblivion.
Well, the state can have
their law books back now.
(chuckles) I hope they
serve the next guy as well.
- You've kept yourself
alive with legal maneuvers
For nearly six years.
You've certainly had every
chance the law allows.
- (scoffs) Chances.
Yeah, but they've been narrow.
I've been within a few feet
of that little green room
Four separate times.
Much closer now.
- You've accomplished something remarkable
during your six years here.
You've educated yourself
right here in this cell.
You've studied law.
You know much more about criminal law
than the average lawyer.
- Yeah, and I'm still here.
- But you can't claim
That you haven't had your day in court.
- Oh no no, I've had that all right.
- You've become a well-known author.
The critics have acclaimed your book.
It's been read by thousands
and thousands of people.
- Ah, the book's nothin'
but the story of a failure,
A book that can't even
answer one question.
What starts a man here?
What brings a man to death row?
- I don't think anyone
will know the right answer
To that question in a hundred years.
- I'll live a hundred years.
Between now and morning.
Warden, why do they have to kill me?
That'll solve nothing.
Look, let "em keep me in
jail for as long as I live.
I didn't write a book to save my life,
I wrote it to help thousands of others
Who might travel the same wretched road.
I wanna save 'em from the
hell I've been through.
I wanna write more, look I
know what I'm talkin' about.
Sure, sure, I acknowledge lots of crimes,
But I'm worth more alive now than dead.
- That's not for me to judge.
- (chuckles) No.
It's up to my fellow man.
Oh, it's a slim hope now.
- [Warden] You know,
You can spend the rest
of the night downstairs,
play some records.
- No, no, no, no.
I'll sweat it out up here,
if you don't mind, Warden.
After all these years, this cell is like--
- Okay, Whit.
- Thanks for comin' up, Ward.
- I'll be seein" ya.
- Yeah, I'll see ya at 9:30, Warden.
(key clatters)
What brought me here?
Why am I here?
Why did it happen to me?
From all sides, I'm condemned.
He's no good, he's a menace.
Nobody is my friend.
I'm a criminal, the worst kind.
Why, why, why?
I wasn't born a criminal.
I didn't spring full grown from hell.
So why am I here?
I had good parents, loving parents.
They gave me more than I ever gave them.
I was a sickly kid and I
had asthma since I was four.
Dad moved the family
From Michigan to the coast for my health.
I can still remember my first
night at Downtown Los Angeles.
Dad used to take me to
different street corners
and we'd just stand there and watch
the hundreds of people
and automobiles go by.
I think that's when I wished
How someday I could
have my own automobile,
be the best driver on the road.
We rented a small house,
and Dad had high hopes for all of us.
Yep, and I guess I never will forget
the first time we went to the zoo.
(birds chirp)
(monkey calls)
(bear lows)
Big kitty, I called it.
I remember I wanted to let it go free,
But Dad told me I had to keep it caged.
I haven't forgotten his words.
Everything dangerous has to be caged.
Things were going pretty good with Dad,
and it wasn't long
Before he was able to
make the first payment
on a second-hand car.
(tires screech)
(horn honks)
(metal crashes)
(sirens wail)
(people chatter)
- Mom!
- [Whit] My nose was broken,
But the worst had happened to Mom.
Her spine was snapped,
paralyzed from the waist down.
- Whit.
- Hm?
- [Officer] I drew the death watch.
I brought you some coffee.
- Thanks.
(ominous music)
Where was I?
Mom's accident, a blur of memories.
Five or six years of poverty,
All of Dad's savings
spent on surgery for Mom.
But it was useless.
She never walked again.
- Whit, Whit!
- [Whit] Yeah, Mom?
- Your father, I smell gas!
In the kitchen, hurry!
(dramatic orchestral music)
- Pal
(doors slam)
What'd you do it for, Pa?
What'd you do it for?
Pa, what'd you do it for?
- [Pa] I'm sorry, son.
- [Whit] And I saw those charity packages.
What I saw in Pop's face that night
Was despair and fear,
And I remember how scared I got.
Scared of poverty, scared
of what it had done to us.
I had to find some way to help.
When the folks questioned me
about the extra groceries,
I told 'em I had a paper route,
and I got away with that lie for weeks.
(bottles clink)
At what stage does a wayward
boy turn into a delinquent?
I guess you don't suddenly turn.
You curve in.
(engine rumbles)
(engine revs)
(tires screech)
Jo-Anne was the girl's name.
I'd watched her playin' the
pinball machine at the malt shop
every day for about a week.
Usually had a couple of
fellas hangin' around her,
But on this day, she was alone.
"When my boyfriends take me
out, they have cars," she said.
I was sure they didn't
have any as good as the one
I had just stolen.
(engine rumbles)
- My, you keep your cars in
good shape, Mr. Rockefeller.
- You ordered it, didn't you?
Come on, jump in.
(motor rumbles)
(signal dings)
- What's the matter little boy?
Big, bad policeman scare
you in your stolen car?
- No.
Where do you wanna go?
- Right straight to the end of the line.
- Where?
- I know a shortcut.
Drive fast, crazy fast.
(engine revs)
(tires screech)
(engine revs)
- [Whit] Well, here we are.
- You're crazy, little boy.
- Yeah, crazy about you.
- Got a cigarette?
(birds chirping)
Wish I had a drink.
- Sorry, the guy who owns this car
Forgot to build & bar in it.
You know, I've been watchin' you a lot.
- [Jo-Anne] I know.
- You've got pretty legs.
- Oh, you've noticed them.
- You've got a pretty mouth.
- Well, what did we come here for?
- To go crazy, I guess.
- You said I've got a pretty mouth.
Why don't you kiss it?
- Hey, lookie!
How do ya like that, lovers!
- Beat it, you guys.
You, too.
- You fellas get outta here.
- [Man] Shame on you, Jo-Anne.
- You know them?
- She knows us.
- What are you doin',
Jo-Anne, cradle-snatchin'?
- What do you think you're doin'?
- Lay off, will ya?
- What?
- That shows you how an expert works.
- Lay off him, I'll
snatch you bald-headed!
- I'll take 'em both on.
- [Man] Well, listen to Buster.
- Leave him alone, he's an all right guy.
- He's a square, look at the car he's got.
- He kiped that car.
- Oh, so he kipes cars.
- Yeah, and knows how to wheel 'em, too.
I was gonna introduce him
to Skipper and the bunch at the shack.
- Hey, we need a guy who can
collect cars and wheel 'em.
- If he's as good as Jo-Anne says,
how 'bout a little proof.
- You want a fast ride?
- Yeah, that's the idea.
(dramatic orchestral music)
(engine revving)
(tires screeching)
Man, can he wheel!
- Didn't I tell ya?
- Put it to the floor, boy!
(engine revs)
(tires screech)
Watch the corners, chauffeur!
- You're gonna drive
us right off this hill.
- Where's he going, Whit, Whit!
Careful, Whit!
(lively jazz music)
- Hey Whit, whadya say?
- Oh hi, kid.
- Here he is, Skipper Adams.
- Hey, this is the guy
I was tellin' you about.
- Yeah?
- Ah, he don't look so tough.
- Is this the guy?
- This is the guy.
- You got a record?
- No, I haven't been pinched.
- Then what makes you
think you're tough enough
to get in with us?
- I don't know how tough he is,
but he can be plenty useful.
- Should see this guy drive, he's great.
- I think he's yellow.
- See.
- How about your nose, boy?
(group laughs)
- Atta girl, Jo-Anne.
- All right, all right, kid.
- Tell her, Skipper.
- So you wanna prove you got guts?
- Anytime you're ready.
- Okay, you'll get a chance.
- When?
- When I tell you.
- Here you go, Whit.
- [Whit] These bullies were
car thieves, shoplifters,
Check kiters, but they were stupid, too.
I knew I had more brains than
all of them put together.
It was a wild run of
crime for almost a year.
That gun made me 10 inches taller.
- I'm sure you're mistaken, officer.
My boy's a mechanical wizard.
He spends most of his time
when he's not in school
Taking the family car apart
and putting it together.
I think somebody wants to talk to you.
Don't you hear me, son?
Now just a minute, officer--
- Nobody's gonna hurt him, mister,
now drop that wrench kid, drop it.
(wrench thuds)
We're going for a little ride, sonny.
- Officer.
This'll break his mother's heart.
She's a cripple, sir, bedridden.
It'll be very hard to tell her--
- You oughta be ashamed of yourself.
It's a bad bunch of kids, mister.
Stick ups and store
boosters and they kipe cars
And give us a bad time.
One of these days, they're
gonna kill somebody.
- But my boy's not like that.
- Well, you'll have to tell
it to the judge, mister.
We picked up one of his
pals, Skipper Adams.
He racked up the rest of 'em name by name,
Put your kid at the top of the list.
- Whit, why don't you speak up.
Tell this man it isn't true.
- You got nothin' on me, copper.
- You see, mister?
They pick up that kinda
talk in the comics,
hear it on the radio, come on, kid.
- [Whit] So I drew a
stretch in the reform school
with the others, fingerprinted,
numbered, cataloged.
I was furnished with a record
that stuck to me ever since.
- You can't handle Skipper yourself.
I'll soften him up for ya.
- You can have what I leave.
- We've only been in this
joint since this mornin'.
You sure this is the way you
wanna start your career here?
- I'm sure.
Just as soon as I can lay my hands on him.
(ominous orchestral music)
You stinkin' stool pigeon.
(Skipper groans)
(punches thud)
(dramatic orchestral music)
(punches thud) (Skipper groans)
(Skipper groans)
- Did you do this?
- Nah, not me.
- Then who did?
Come on, names.
Who punched this fella?
- Santa Clause.
- Oh, a wise guy.
- Is that a crime, too?
- Now you're makin' a good
start for a new arrival.
How many of these boys worked you over?
- Just one, him.
(group chatters)
- You're a liar.
- Take him over to the hospital.
All right, come on, come on, break it up.
I warned you, Whittier,
if you think you're tough,
We tame lions here,
- The tougher it gets,
the better I'll like it.
I conformed to nothing.
I drew one punishment after another
and told 'em what to do with their rules.
But in six months, I was
warned and balled out 20 times
And listed as an incorrigible.
- What's the matter with you?
You're poundin' up a record an inch thick.
It'll bog you down in time.
When are you gonna grow up?
Got them to give you a job in the office.
And what happens?
You use that privilege to juggle the files
And put bad credits against
other inmates you don't like.
- They had it comin'.
- You've stolen from the commissary,
Been caught gambling,
smoking in the dormitory.
You're full of resentment and defiance.
You're on a downhill toboggan.
- Into a snowbank, sir.
- Into the penitentiary.
- At least I'll steer the course myself.
Don't you do me any favors.
- I won't.
Take it the hard way.
90 days in the brickyard.
(machines humming)
- What are you tryin' to prove?
- I'm training to take on
ignorant bulls like you
10 at a time.
(whistle blows)
- That's lunch, line up!
(ominous orchestral music)
(men chattering)
Now, I know you got
complaints about the food.
Now, light rations and
hard work is the order
as long as you deserve it.
It's up to you.
- [Whit] At that moment,
all that guard meant to me
Was another cop, another stupid authority
tellin' me what to do.
Boy if I'd had a gun that day,
I would have emptied it into him.
(tray clatters)
- [Man] Take him!
(dramatic orchestral music)
- [Guard] He needs to be fumigated.
(Whit coughs)
- [Whit] That was my
first dose of tear gas,
And I never forgot.
I was still against
authority, against society,
Against the law, but I
vowed from that day on
to yes everybody.
To rub my nose in any
kind of dirt, and get out.
I finally got out, older, taller, wiser.
Upon arrival in town of
residence report at once
to your parole officer.
- [Officer] I've been over your
record carefully, Whittier.
You're gonna have to walk
a tight rope from now on.
You slip, you fall right into San Quentin.
- I'd like to ask one question, sir.
- Hm, eight more waiting, huh?
No, there's no time for questions.
You report here once a week
Until I think it's okay for you
to come in only once a month.
Now, you've read the rules
about consorting with other parolees,
Getting off the streets at night,
And remember, no liquor, no firearms.
- Why can't you cut a record of that?
- No listen boy, that's
not the right attitude.
I've got 70 like you that
I've got to keep track of
And more coming in every day.
Now, I'll help you as much
as you want to help yourself.
- (scoffs) I doubt that.
- Now look, boy.
- Eh, thank you, sir.
Good day, sir.
(suspenseful orchestral music)
My answer to parole, to
cops, to the devil himself
Is to strike first.
The brand's on us deep,
and we gotta fight back.
There's no 10 commandments
in this gang, just one.
Don't get caught.
- Squares, here we come!
- All I want is the long, green stuff
with the dead presidents on it.
(dark orchestral music)
(engine rumbles)
- [Whit] 10 robberies in a night.
I'd stolen a short-wave
radio and rigged it up
to receive the police broadcasts.
- [Officer] Robbers escaped in black--
- I always knew where I was
going, the police didn't.
(gentle jazz music)
(door buzzes)
I was in the dough, and
when you have dough,
You have a dame.
I called her Doll.
She could be a doll, too.
All looks and clothes
and feminine cuteness.
But she could be a hard-boiled realist.
I like both sides of her character
and all points of her compass.
(crickets chirping)
(engine rumbling)
What took ya so long?
- Whit, the cops tailed us.
- Are you crazy?
What'd you lead 'em up here for?
- I couldn't help it.
They didn't dog us till
we got on this road,
There ain't any other. (Whit pounds)
- [Whit] What's the ignition
on that car, jerk the wire.
Hit the brush!
(engine rumbling)
(doors thud)
(crickets chirping)
(doors thud) (engine revs)
(guns fire)
(tires screech)
- We got time, we busted the ignition.
- Well I didn't get a chance
to bust the two-way radio on my car.
- They'll cork up this
road down below, hit it.
- Who's doing the driving?
(engine rumbles)
(tires screech)
- [Dispatch] Cars, 63, 40, 10,
to Flintridge Mountain Road
and main highway.
All speed intercept white
squad car coming from hills.
San Fernando Valley, Malibu,
Santa Monica, all highways,
All cars, police radio
car number 34, repeat 34,
Stolen from patrol.
Three men in this car, all armed.
May head back into city, repeat.
- You guys couldn't catch cold.
Don't come too close behind us. (chuckles)
- [Dispatch] Calling Updike
Involving Flintridge Circle, X-Y-Z.
Reverse battleship Normandy--
- I tossed him into using code.
- [Dispatch] Three, 20, 10.
Police are effective, Flintridge, Malibu.
(engine rumbles)
(sirens wail)
- That it, they're askin' for it!
(gun fires)
(tires screech)
(gun fires)
Did you see that, Whit?
He went over the rail like
a fractured duck, huh?
- One shot, that's all
it takes me is one shot.
- Hey, come on.
- Good shootin'.
(engine revs)
(guns fire)
(explosion booms)
(tires screech)
(sirens wailing)
(gun firing)
- Whit, wait for it!
- The gas tank, we're gonna explode!
Let's get outta this car!
Let's go!
(sirens wailing)
We're trapped!
(tires screech)
(metal crashes)
(explosion booms)
(guns firing)
(gun fires)
(man groans)
- [Officer] Right through
the head, I think.
- [Officer] No, this guy
must carry a rabbit's foot.
You only creased.
- [Whit] But the rabbit's
foot wasn't good enough
To keep me outta San Quentin.
That was my first trip in.
Lemme see, it was in August, '41.
The minimum sentence totaled 26 years.
The maximum could be five lifetimes.
- [Announcer] Attention
all men, attention.
Warden Duffy'll speak to you.
Warden Duffy.
- [Duffy] Hear this please.
I've got some big news for
every man in this prison.
The State of California has just completed
And put into working order an honor farm.
You can regain your dignity as men.
The aim is rehabilitation
and a parole for you
As soon as you're entitled to it.
The name of this place is Chino.
- Mm, business is pickin' up.
- [Warden Duffy] There'll
be no bars and no walls.
The only thing that'll bind you to Chino
Is your own word of honor
Until the authorities believe
you're ready to go free.
This is your chance, men.
Good behavior'll get you there.
That is all.
- You could grow old gracefully
in a place like Chino.
Live among the flowers, the
birds, and the bees. (laughs)
- Yeah, I don't intend
to grow old in any joint.
Hey Al, you gonna stay around LA
When your parole comes through?
- Right close.
- I'm gonna give you a telephone number.
- Dame.
- Good lookin'?
- Yeah, she's all mine, remember that.
They'll come along the
minute I make Chino.
Unless you get yourself jammed up again.
- Eh, not a chance this time.
I've learned how to be careful.
- Well, stay outta trouble till
I shake this joint at least.
- Let met me know the
day you get to Chino.
I'll be your outside contact.
If I don't have a long, gray beard
And an ear trumpet by that time.
- I'll make it before you're
on the streets a year.
This stir's never seen the
kind of good con I'm gonna be.
I'll have so many credit marks,
they'll wanna make me the chaplain.
(Al laughs)
(birds chirping)
(engine hums)
(engine rumbles)
There were towers used by
the plane-spotting details.
They were quite a distance
from headquarters.
I promised myself I'd be
up in one of those things
in less than a year.
(engine rumbles)
Chino looked like a sugar-covered
birthday cake to me.
In a way, it was a birthday present.
I had just reached 24.
Took a long, long time
before my smartness paid off.
(airplane whooshes)
- Regular airliner, 10:30.
(chuckles) No, it didn't drop no bombs.
We are lucky bein' here Whit, aren't we?
- Luckier when we get out.
- Eh, I don't know that I wanna get out.
Beds are good, meals are good.
It's comfortable here.
I don't like it out on the street.
I've tried the old world.
- Eh, the world's all right if you use it,
make it pay off, grab it
by the throat and shake it,
Slap it in the face a couple of times,
Turn it upside down, out
rolls your bread and butter.
Maybe a little cake, it's a cinch.
- If you're lucky.
- Eh, I make my own luck.
- Yeah, but crime don't pay.
- Pays off 87% to the smart cookies
Who never end up in jail.
87%, is that bad?
- Bad for the other 13%.
That includes us, we're here.
- [Whit] Eh, you belong here, boy,
You're happy, don't wake up.
- [Inmate] You're expectin'
that dame again, aren't ya?
- [Whit] Yeah.
- Dames is grief.
- [Whit] Not for me, they've
been my best friends.
- I was married once.
The trouble a lousy two
dollars can get you into.
- [Whit] There she is, right on time.
Just picked up a light over in the brush.
- I knew you were up to it, I knew it.
- Ah, tonight I'm strictly
rabbit, it's jump and run.
- Whit, give it a good, long thought.
You're here on your honor.
- Me, I haven't got any.
All I need is an hour.
- Goin' over the fence?
- Through it.
I bought a pair of wire cutters last week.
You mind a little blood?
You tell 'em I fell through
the trap door and cut my head.
- Whit, don't do this.
You're gonna make it
tough on the rest of us.
- You're gonna go along with
me on this hour's delay,
Or aren't you?
If you don't, I'll square
you the day you get out.
- It's your party.
- And now, will you call the switch board?
Tell 'em I fell through
the trap, cut my head,
Started for the hospital.
Tell 'em you wanna know
how I'm comin' along.
They say I haven't arrived yet,
Tell 'em I must be wanderin'
around dazed, get it?
- You're dazed, all right.
- Tomorrow you can have my piece of pie.
So long.
(midtempo orchestral music)
Hi, Doll.
- Whit! (engine rumbles)
- Al, you old gray beard.
- (laughs) Meet the
Monk, my good left arm,
straight as they come.
- Hiya, farmer.
- Hi, Monk.
- Everything okay, any changes?
- Just like we said,
it's straight for town,
Let's go, wheel it.
- [Al] Wheel it?
- Yeah, I suddenly lost
my taste for Chino.
- They haven't done away with traffic cops
Since you've been in.
- Yeah, relax.
- Okay kid, so I'm nervous.
After you've been in as
long as I have been--
- Who you talkin' to, amateurs?
You sure they ain't tryin'
to buzz around you right now?
- I got a good hour ahead.
- We've got a good year ahead.
- You're lookin' the pink, Whit.
- Feel good, I'm goin' a little
gardening around the house
Just for the exercise.
Look, I cut my thumb.
- Did you meet any interesting
dames in that country club?
- They all had beards.
How 'bout those lips
I've been waitin' for?
(engine rumbles)
- Well, after the big heat's off on you,
We head for the mountains,
lay low for a full month.
- Nevermind me.
Just how hard are you, Al?
- (laughs) The law is blind.
They've been lookin' for me for two years,
I've been here every minute of the time.
You're safe here, it's a breeze.
- I've been readin' about
you in the papers, Al.
- My last big haul?
A pushover.
Upstairs windows are never locked.
I got myself a couple
of handfuls of real ice
In a big Bel-Air mansion.
I'm fencin' 'em right tonight.
We will be financed for a year.
- I used to know all the angles
and all the double crossers.
How well do you know this fence?
- How suspicious could you get in stir?
I've done business with this guy 50 times,
He's gotta be right.
- It's taken me a year to get here.
I'd like to stay overnight at least.
- (laughs) You're safer
here than in church.
I'll be back in two shakes
of a cocktail mixer.
With the olives. (laughs)
- I think I'll take a shower.
- [Al] Make yourself at home.
(shower hisses)
(door pounding)
You got no business here.
- [Officer] We know all
about that, so open the door.
- [Al] I lost my key.
- [Officer] Or maybe you
got somebody in here.
Now open up, will ya?
- 1 got no key, I told ya, I got no key!
(man pounds)
Well, you got the stuff
you want, let's move on.
- You're a little too anxious, Al.
- I told you there's nobody
here but the termites.
- Who's the extra bed for?
- I got a pet cat.
- Your pet cat just took a shower.
Come on, kitty, slow and easy.
You might catch pneumonia.
Take a good look at this mug.
I think he's the answer
to the hot broadcast.
- He fits the description.
Dark, curly hair, dark eyes,
slight hump on bridge of nose.
Right height, weight.
You're news, son, hot news.
Whittier himself.
- You got this guy all wrong.
- [Officer] Oh no, we got him all right.
- Your next stop, Mr.
- On-a-Farm Whittier is Folsom.
- That dick was tellin'
me the truth, all right.
The next stop was Folsom, at
a home of maximum security,
The home of nightmares.
If I had tried the wall,
I'd be dead by now.
A row of machine gun bullets
where my belt oughta be.
Almost four years of it.
I hounded that parole board with weeps.
Folks needed me for all
their money troubles.
Mom was sick, bore my responsibility.
Any reasons I could think of
to get outta there sooner.
I was on the free side,
But the old resentment
against any authority
Was stronger than ever.
(suspenseful music)
Dependable Doll, that's you.
- Whit, be careful.
- When I have I been careless?
- I remember reading a story once
About the wife of an air pilot.
How whenever her man went out on a trip,
She died a little until
she heard that he'd landed.
That's how I feel about you.
- I always land.
- And I always die a little.
- Mammy, you're gettin' sentimental.
What do you want me to do,
sell shoes and gasoline?
- I wouldn't care what you sold.
- Now wouldn't that be a dumb life?
Big thrill of a week, come
home to a hamburger dinner
with a blue ribbon from the boss
For having sold more shoes in March
Than old man Tweedletooth.
- Sure, a dumb life.
No kicks in it.
I can be really stupid, can't 1?
- Baby, if things get hard,
we'll cash our chips and fly south.
This'll be a cleanup year.
- Just a year?
- A year.
- There'll be no cheatin', mister.
Tomorrow, I buy a calendar.
- I want you to promise me,
Doll, that whatever happens,
Any dough I can get to ya,
you'll buy Mom and Dad things.
You know, you'll go see 'em, fix 'em up.
- Nothing but the best
is gonna happen to you
from here on in, but I
promise anyway, I'll see them.
(door buzzes)
That'll be Monk and the boys.
The door's unlocked.
- What's Dewey stringin'?
I want my chips up.
You sure they're hand-picked?
- The cream.
They're what you asked for and more.
Monk's known him for
years, he wouldn't fool us.
- I wish ol' Al were out there.
- Won't see him for 20 years.
(lively jazz music)
Hello, Monk.
- Hey, Monk!
- Hiya, pal!
Delivered as advertised.
You know what I told you about my friends.
They know all about you.
- How are ya?
- Glad to know you,
Nice to have so many questions
and answers behind us.
- Monk says you have & patent
on how to get rich quick,
No exchanges.
- Well, it's no new technique,
but it has the news late.
Monk tells me you know all
the better class joints
In the county.
- Know 'em and been in 'em.
- Most of the runners for the
syndicate and the rackets.
- Hey, those boys can be rough.
They shoot straight.
- There's no copyright
in shootin' straight.
- I'm making it plain.
I get a few things around here I treasure.
You're not using this
apartment for a headquarters.
- I know a very old hideout, we'll use it.
- All right, now what's the full pitch?
- Hijack the hijackers.
Thieves like us against thieves like them.
So I'm a family.
Nobody complains, nobody
informs to the police,
Law don't bother us because we
don't step on the law's toes,
Plain enough?
- I'd wish you'd talk about
this when I'm not in earshot.
The law's one thing, but
racket runners, not for me.
Whit, you're the only one I care about.
Let me know what is in the remains.
- How's it sound?
- Thieves like us against
thieves like them.
That's okay by me.
- [Monk] Now I'm already dead.
But I'll go along just for the glory.
- Check, this is a deal.
(suspenseful orchestral music)
- [Whit] We warmed up by
heisting the messengers
That carried the dough
For the horseracing and
gambling syndicates.
Inside known boys, heh.
(doors thud)
(engine revs)
(tires screech)
Go on, get that hood up.
(engine revs)
(group chatters)
- Hey, come on!
- It's nine.
- He made five,
We're lookin' for nine!
- Get up, hands up and stay up!
Well, nice big bills, thanks.
- Johnny Albert's gonna have 50 rods
Lookin' for you cheap punks.
You must be hopped up.
- Nah, just a little
war between smart guys
And smarter guys.
The last is us.
You better tell Johnny
Albert to send 100 rods.
They better be carryin' machine guns.
We're hard to catch.
(engine rumbles)
Turn this heaper on,
keep a gun in the seat.
(gentle instrumental music)
- How do?
(Charlie whistles)
A Mr. Do Re Mi and guests.
- I suppose Joe sent you.
- No, but Mr. Johnny Albert
suggested we dropped by.
- Oh, Mr. Albert sent you.
Oh, well, come in, come in.
We have to be careful, you know.
And after all, you do
look just a little like,
Well, rookie cops.
- That, dear lady, is the supreme insult.
- Forgive me.
And call me Blanche.
Now, were you interested
in any particular game?
- Birds.
- Rare birds of paradise.
- No pheasant?
- Or quail?
- Not the San Quentin kind.
- I'll show you around.
These are our hostesses.
Name your game, they play them all.
Do you like what you see?
- Do you like what you see?
- A gun.
- Correction, a loaded gun.
Keep walking forward, Blanche darling.
Stop trembling.
This can only hurt your pocketbook,
Or shall I say, Johnny Albert's?
Okay everybody, hands in sight!
(women scream)
You're supposed to have it on, now get it!
Get a crew, right here, hurry up.
Now let's head over there.
Come on, you come on, gimme that necklace.
- I worked very hard for
these rocks, you louse.
- Well work again, honey.
You know practice makes perfect.
All right Blanche, get the load up,
You got somethin' to stash, let's go.
All right, now outta here, let's go!
Goodbye, Blanche!
(woman shrieks)
Don't touch any buttons, Johnny.
Okay honey, you got off of
his chair easy and quick.
Wipe your mouth, Johnny,
strictly business.
You know what we're after.
- Three of ya, huh?
You paid a social call on
Blanche, am I guessing right?
You're the same hoods
that held up the boys
In my treasure bar last week.
Cheap punks.
- We're not gonna be so
cheap tonight, Johnny.
- I can smell the stink of
the jail tank on all of you.
- Make you homesick?
Okay Johnny, on your feet.
You goin' along with us,
And we'll take the doll
to keep you company.
- Get rid of him, Johnny.
I won't be tied up in no drafty basements.
- Oh, we'll fix you up real nice, baby.
- Let me phone.
- Heh, don't kid us.
Tomorrow you can use our phone.
- And tomorrow,
Your lawyer can start
gettin' the dough ready.
- We can talk business right here.
How much dough you asking?
- [Whit] How much you think it's worth?
- I'll go 30 Gs.
I keep a slush fund for
just such an emergency.
30 Gs now, small bills.
- We were only gonna ask for 25.
(Charlie chuckles)
We'll do you a favor, we'll take your 30.
- With no hard feelings.
- Ah, we'll find it.
- Get it.
- In the second drawer.
- [Charlie] For my collection.
- Naturally, I had no
intention of trying that.
Against three of you.
- Oh no, naturally no intention.
- Duck soup, isn't it?
- You oughta know.
Brought down many a duck.
Sorry for interrupting your party, Johnny.
(suspenseful orchestral music)
(doors thud)
(tires screech)
- Well, the alarm must've been hooked up
to that drawer we opened.
Come on, wheel it!
(tires screech)
(guns firing)
Gimme that wheel.
(guns firing)
Okay, brace yourselves!
(tires screeching)
(metal crashing)
Come on, take this wheel.
Gimme that loot.
- We're hot now.
- Yeah, we'll we're hot from now on.
The hottest set of characters
Ever crossed Johnny Albert and his mob.
We're nuts if we go back to LA.
Every ghoul in town'll be gunnin' for us.
- I just assumed I'd go pickin' buckshot
Outta my front teeth.
- How 'bout it, Whit?
- Ride to Glendale, Monk.
Here you are.
Splittin' it four ways
thins it down, doesn't it?
- You sure you're not sore, Whit?
- Nah.
We've had our kicks.
Safer we split up.
- Australia, here I come.
- (chuckles) It was Africa a while back.
- That ain't far enough anymore.
- You guys ditch this
hot heap and scatter.
- I'm goin' to Canada.
Any use askin' you where
you're headin', Whit?
Leavin' California?
- I don't know, I'll find some mischief.
You'll read about me in the papers.
(door thuds)
(engine revs)
(engine hums)
(crickets chirp)
- It's the cops, honey.
Nothing to be scared of.
(door thuds)
- [Bandit] Bail out, this is a stick up!
- Mister, listen, I only got a few bucks--
- [Bandit] Both of you, out!
- You stay here, honey.
Don't worry.
(man groans)
- [Woman] Oh, let go
of me, please, let go!
- [Bandit] Keep movin'.
- Out of the car!
- Oh!
Don't, let go!
Please, let go! (sobs)
Stop! (screams)
(suspenseful orchestral music)
- [Bandit] Ah, this is a stick up.
(punches thud) (woman screams)
(woman screams)
(dramatic orchestral music)
(gentle instrumental music)
(paper crinkles)
(door buzzes)
(door buzzes)
- Who is it?
- [Whit] Open up, honey.
- Whit, it's two o'clock.
- Aren't you glad to see me, no greeting?
- Whit, I, I.
Look, you can't stay here.
- I just dropped by--
- The police, they--
- They been here?
- No.
No, but I'm afraid.
- Some guys, goons?
- No, no quit it.
You're hurting me.
- Well look, nobody's been
here, nobody's liable to come,
What are you sweatin' about?
- It's what's in the papers.
Robbery's one thing, but this other,
This Red Light Bandit business.
Those girls.
- You believe everything
you read in the paper?
- There's a drawing in the
newspaper, what he looks like.
The law thinks you're this guy.
- What do you think?
(slaps smack)
(crickets chirping)
- [Woman] I've gotta go home, Ronnie.
- [Ronnie] Oh, not yet, honey.
- [Woman] Oh, Dad"ll be furious.
- [Ronnie] Let him be furious. (moans)
(woman screaming)
- [Dispatch] Red light job again.
Victim state of collapse,
bandit driving a Ford.
Probably souped up.
Look for this Ford, dark
coupe, late 1946 to 1947 model.
Wanted man is a male Caucasian.
Young, dark, curly hair,
five feet six to five 10.
Weighs 150 to 170 pounds.
- I sure wish that guy would pick on us.
- Four nights in these clothes.
I wish they'd have picked
you to wear this girdle.
(traffic hums)
- Hey, over there that.
Coupe just pulling in for gas.
Let's look it over.
(engine hums)
- Spotted.
(engine revs)
(tires screeching)
(siren wailing)
(objects clatter)
(tires screeching)
Don't touch that wheel.
- All they got on us is some
hot clothes and a car theft.
I ain't gonna get chipped.
- 1 got 11 years parole
on me and then some.
I'd rather get killed
now then rot in Folsom.
(tires screeching) (sirens wailing)
(motor rumbles)
(gun fires)
(tires screeching)
(metal crashing)
(doors thud) (people chattering)
Leave me alone!
I didn't do it!
Get outta here and leave me
alone, I didn't do anything,
Leave me go!
- This red light thug we've
been looking for used a .45.
Victims swear it was a .45.
Now let's count the score.
Number one, the gun.
Found near your car.
- Coincidence, .45s aren't rare.
- Victims of the Red
Light Bandit identify you.
- Look, I'm not even the size they claim,
not even the weight.
I've been misidentified, not identified,
It happens all the time and you know it.
You call up the victim,
you say I got your bandit.
He's an ex-con whose already confessed.
What do they do, call the cop a liar?
- Number three, this pencil flash
found in the glove
compartment of your car.
- There's one in every car,
You can buy 'em in any drug store.
- Number four, the car itself.
Stolen car, description
right, you driving it.
- Hundreds of car of
exactly the same description
Runnin' all over the streets.
- Eh, you got lots of excuses,
but not much of a case.
- You say there was a third guy in a car,
He's your Red Light Bandit.
He jumped out at the fillin' station.
- You sure?
- I'm sure.
- You say this third guy
was riding in your car?
- Yes, he rode into the
gas station with us.
Caught a flash of you and
jumped out the other side.
- You swear to this?
- Anytime.
- Huh, you're the best help we've had.
What's this third guy's name?
- What?
- I said what's this third guy's name?
- Find out yourself.
You're the cop, you lost him, I didn't.
- Okay.
So now we've lost this third guy.
Now we'll talk about you.
Number five, you are a
notorious police character
notorious two-time loser.
When the law wanted to question you,
You made a fast run for it.
Doesn't that look like you're guilty?
- Look, if I'd have stopped,
and picked up with an ex-con
And a car loaded with hot clothes,
I'd have gone back to Folsom
As a parole violator with new charges.
Why wouldn't I run?
Look, you're not gonna burn
me for those red light jobs.
(group chatters boisterously)
- Come on!
- I want him alive!
- [Man] Get him outta here!
- He's a girl beater!
- A sex fiend!
- Why don't you leave him to us,
we'll get rid of him for ya!
- [Inmate] Turn off the
lights for two minutes,
we'll beef him!
- [Inmate] No extra
charge for a broken head!
- [Whit] The papers and the broadcasters
Had already convicted me of crimes
That even these slobs hated.
For five days the police
had ran questions at me.
Only I was turned over
to the sheriff's custody.
- [Officer] Move 'em outta here.
(inmates chatter)
- Whittier?
- Franklin.
- What a bunch of pigs.
My lawyer come yet?
- Take him to my office.
- There's gonna be a party workout.
Chains, nightsticks, kicks in
the head, I've heard of it!
Well you two pitbulls aren't
gonna get away with it.
You leave one mark on
me, and you'll regret it.
I'll have every lawyer in the state--
- Suppose you take it easy
for a couple of minutes!
- What about my lawyer?
- I don't talk without my lawyer.
- He'll be here, but first
I got somethin' to tell ya.
- Well, it better be good,
'cause I heard the worst.
- No, I'm afraid not.
Your mother died last night.
- [Whit] That stopped me cold.
I remember tryin' to say
somethin', but no words came out.
I hadn't been home in a long time.
I didn't have enough nerve
to face the folks anymore.
Now Mom was gone.
I never gave coppers any
reason to be decent to me.
I never gave any one of
them credit for being kind
till that day in the captain's office.
- Hey look, Whittier,
There's been no formal
charges against you yet.
DA's workin' on the list.
I can give you a break.
Don't put 'em back in the tank.
I'll write you out an assignment
To take him to the funeral parlor.
(somber instrumental music)
- [Whit] I'd seen death before.
But this was different.
I remember thinkin', Mom,
If I could turn back a little time.
If I could speak to you again.
But your pain is over now, all the pain.
God knows I caused you plenty.
- I burned all the newspapers.
She never knew.
- [Whit] Doll.
(handcuffs click)
- Yes sir, there's nothin'
like havin' a bigshot lawyer.
Big enough to raid a private interview
In a captain's office.
- It has its advantages.
Can you wait outside, please?
(door thuds)
- You know I got the dough stashed.
We can work this red light rap.
We can tie that DA and his
five-points evidence into a knot.
All this identification
testimony's pure bunk,
Pure baloney, you know that, don't you?
- Here are the papers you sent me.
Names of the alibi witnesses and so forth.
You may want to hang on to them.
- Don't you need 'em?
It's not gonna be as easy as that, is it?
- It's going to be that easy for me.
I wouldn't touch your money or your case
If your life depended on it.
- Well my life does!
They're tryin' to gas me,
the little Lindbergh Law.
- Be sure and take a deep breath.
- Now wait a minute, I hired you!
I got the dough, I tell ya!
- There's a limit
Even to what a criminal
lawyer can stomach.
You've been a vicious,
dangerous man all your life.
You've abused every
privilege of social justice.
- Now wait a minute, I got rights!
- This is one of my rights.
You haven't got a gun in your hand,
And you've got to listen.
You've robbed, wrecked, cheated.
You've flaunted the laws of
prisons in reform schools.
You pedaled and fence with the underworld.
You've beaten innocent men,
Shocked forever the minds of young women.
You tried to kill law officers.
You may even have committed murder.
But now they've got you on
the Little Lindbergh Law,
And it'll execute you, and good riddance.
- Nah, that stupid law!
Just for holdin' a gun on
somebody and movin' a few feet,
you call that kidnapping?
They'll be executin' men for plain robbery
If they get away with this!
Doesn't my life mean anything to you?
- Nothing.
Since when did any life
mean anything to you?
You drove your mother to an early grave.
You're killing your father by inches,
And you blame everybody,
society, law, authority, poverty,
And it's all a big lie.
You're a living lie.
- Wait a minute, wait a
minute, wait a minute.
Please, please, you're my only hope.
- Get out of my way.
- [Whit] I told 'em all I wasn't guilty,
That I wasn't the Red Light Bandit,
But no one believed me, no one.
What was I to do now?
- Are you represented by counsel?
- [Whit] I wish to represent myself.
- You don't want to
trust this to a lawyer?
- [Whit] I don't.
- If you wish to try your own case,
we can't tell you not to.
May times, men with past
experience such as you've had,
you know the tricks of the trade.
They've come before me later
with the excuse of their inability
to prepare for a defense.
They wait for the last
minute to get a lawyer,
And then have him ask for a continuance
Just to stall off the case.
Now, do you really want
to try your own case?
- That's correct.
- How do you plead?
- Not guilty.
- The case is set for trial
on April the 29th, 1948.
- Well, it's about time.
- You must think we're runnin'
a law school around here.
- Ha, wouldn't harm any.
You know I'm entitled a couple of books.
- You're getting everything
that you're entitled to.
But don't you think you're
runnin' a good thing
Into the ground?
- No, I don't.
My whole future, if there
is any, is in these books.
- What's the matter
with a public defender?
- He's fine.
Nice old fella.
He'll be around, for experience.
- You think you're smarter, eh?
- Well, I got more at stake than he has.
But is there any harm in
a guy tryin' to find out
what makes him tic?
- You were a young pup,
Somebody wound you up with a crooked key,
You've been runnin' backwards ever since.
- Yeah.
That's not the way to win, is it?
- You oughta know.
- [Whit] The date for
my trial had been set.
And my future was up to my own cleverness
To twist the law to my advantage.
I was alone fighting for my life.
Only one man in the world had
my total interest at heart.
Only one man in the whole world
would dedicate his life to save mine.
(gentle instrumental music)
The courtroom was another kind of jungle,
the jungle of civilization
Where the intelligent battle to the death
until the acquittal.
This was the arena, the weapons
were books and speeches,
Evidence and witnesses.
I recognized weapons of
legal combat before a jury.
I remember looking each
one of them over carefully,
these 12.
They were all good-styled citizens,
carefully selected for
their lack of prejudice.
I was the grand prize of this battle,
A novice entering a bull ring
could not have felt more uncertain than ll.
A brilliant talker, the
prosecutor set the stage
when he told the jury that he would prove
That I was the Red Light Bandit
and would prove 18 separate
major felonies against me.
Under the Little Lindbergh Law,
he would demand capital
punishment, the gas chamber.
Witnesses, witnesses,
identifying, accusing,
Condemning me with
gestures as well as words.
As the case against me
grew stronger by the hour
and by the day,
I looked in vain for one
expression of sympathy,
one ray of hope.
I searched the faces of the jurors,
and I looked for
understanding and tolerance
in the expressions of men from the press,
But I saw nothing on those faces
But scorn and contempt.
Witnesses, witnesses.
I couldn't shake their testimony.
A jury listened to them, fascinated.
I wondered if that old
saying was right after all.
I was my own lawyer.
Had I a fool for a client?
(reporters chatter)
- Prosecutors closed
summation to jury just now.
Said Whittier's alibis were just dribble.
No alibi at all for the crime of the 17th
And none for the 22nd.
Oh, hold your horses.
Yeah, I think so, he's downright depraved.
Yeah, positive.
Here it is, yeah, DA quote.
"To convict him of robbery
is just like you going home.
"Doing time means nothing to him."
Wait a sec, here's something to quote.
Parole violator, bestial
crimes, morally wrong,
lawlessly cold, calculating, vicious.
Sure, he's a sadistic fiend
and a cinch for the gas route.
Okay, bye.
- [Whit] Then it was my
turn to address the jury.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury.
You heard the prosecutor.
I say to you here that I'm not guilty
of the crimes ascribed
to the Red Light Bandit.
I say to you here, I'm
not the Red Light Bandit,
I swear, I'm telling the truth.
I'd like to point out that
these crimes were committed
by a bungling amateur.
The prosecutor says
I'm a long-time hardened
and professional criminal.
Certainly, a man of my experience
Wouldn't be nervous with a gun,
as the witnesses said the attacker was.
I'd like you to consider the descriptions
broadcast by the police.
Male Caucasian, smooth face, young,
Dark, curly har, dark eyes.
This could be me.
But it could also be thousands of others.
The description also said
five foot six to five foot 10.
Weighs 150 to 170 pounds.
Some of the victims reported
the Red Light Bandit
talked with an accent.
Does this description fit me?
I'm over six feet tall.
I weigh over 180.
I walked for over a day and a half.
And in the end.
- The jury has found you
guilty on 17 of the 18 charges,
on two of which the penalty is death.
- Your Honor, aside from
the automatic appeal
To which I'm entitled,
I move now for dismissal
on the grounds of mistrial.
As you know, the court
reporter died two days ago
Before this trial ended.
The law requires a proper
transcript of trial testimony.
I maintain it's impossible
for another person to prepare
From a dead reporter's shorthand notes
A proper transcript of this trial.
- I shall take the
motion under advisement.
(gavel pounds)
(gavel pounds)
- [Whit] The motion was denied.
I argued that I was being
unconstitutionally convicted.
The double death sentence held.
They brought me here to
death row, six years ago.
Six years ago.
Six years in death row.
Six years in a living coffin.
A coffin 10 1/2 feet long,
4 1/2 feet wide, my home,
my office, fighting the law with the law,
Searching for legal
miracles, writs, stays,
Appeal after appeal.
Four times to the Supreme
Court of The United States.
Hundreds of law books studied,
thousands of words written,
Twice before now within
hours of the gas chamber.
I've already died 50 times.
(bell rings)
The night is gone, this is it.
I can't show fear.
But I am afraid, God in heaven forgive me.
It's been all my fault.
I know now what brings a man to death row.
Not society, not
heredity, not environment,
Only the man himself.
I alone am to blame.
(footsteps pound)
(lock clicks)
- [Warden] You've done it again, Whit.
- No kiddin'.
- A stay from the State Supreme Court.
- I thought it was the bad news.
Listen, did the judge make any comment
When he granted the stay?
- Here, I took some notes over the phone.
You'll be able to read the facts
And the judge's opinion
in the morning papers.
- Eh.
Time, that's all I need.
Over 100 more days of life.
I gotta start on my new brief right away.
- The reporters are
downstairs, they wanna see you.
- My pleasure.
Anytime you say, Warden.
- I'll call ya.
- [Narrator] Whit filed his new brief,
But The United States Supreme Court
again refused to review his case.
The date for his execution
was once more set by the trial court.
On January 11th, just three
days before Whit was to die,
The Chief Justice of the Circuit Court
stayed the execution pending a hearing.
So the story of this man is not yet over
nor is the story of cell 2455, death row.
Whether Whit descends to the gas chamber
or whatever the future holds for him,
Cell 2455 still stands,
ready and waiting for the next Whittier.
(bold orchestral music)