Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison

Synopsis: Another in a unrelated series of Warner's penitentiary tours in three different decades. This one is California's notorious Folsom Prison prior to its 1944 reformation make-over. Ben Rickey, the prison's sadistic old-school warden who believes that the prison system if for punishment rather than reformation, rules Folsom with an iron-hand. He highly resents his university-trained assistant, Mark Benson, who does not share Rickey's beliefs. Rickey, hoping the results will be disastrous, gives Benson permission to try his modern method. He tolerates Benson's innovations until convict "Red" Pardue is killed by another prisoner. Benson blames Rickey, who had refused Pardue protection after he had reported an escape attempt. Benson resigns and Rickey brings back his concentration-camp program. Chuck Daniels, a hardened convict, then stage his long-planned prison break. A bloody riot ensues in which Rickey is murdered and the escapees are accidentally killed by a dynamite blast while taking
Director(s): Crane Wilbur
Production: Warner Bros.
87 min

I am Folsom Prison

At one time they called me Bloody Folsom

And I earned the name.

I've been standing here in California

since 1878.

My own prisoners built me,

shutting themselves off

from the free world.

Every block of my granite

is cemented by their tears,

their pain

and the blood of many men.

This is a story

from my rough, tough past.

It happened not long after

the turn of the century.

At the time I tell about

I had within my walls 1,000 dangerous men

that other prisons couldn't hold.

but I held them.

If I couldn't break a man's spirit

I broke his bones.

I kept many of them in a cell house

that wasn't fit for animals,

let alone men.

It's cells were more like tombs.

And the doors were made

of solid iron,

secured by bars that

only dynamite could budge.

Two men, and often more,

were crowded into those airless crypts.

They slept, when they could sleep,

on mattresses alive with vermin.

They froze on winter nights

and their bodies were drained of sweat

in the breathless heat of summer.

Every morning,

whilst it was still dark,

my guards made the rounds

turning out the inmate kitchen workers

so they could cook the slop that was

fed my prisoners under the name of


Is it any wonder that

after a sleepless night

a man sometimes went berserk and

fought the hated walls that shut him in?

Knock it off you

and let a guy get some sleep!

Pipe down you wing-ding.

This was a common thing

in those old days.

I had so little work for them to do.

Idleness and brutal restraint is

a combination that rots a man's mind.

Every Sunday morning

a long line of prisoners

waited before the gate

which led to the office

of the Captain of the Guard.

These men had dared to break my rules.

Rules no man could keep

under such conditions.

And they were there

to be sentenced to punishment.

First in line was the man whose mind

had cracked under the awful strain.

His feet were touching the Dead Line.

and every prisoner knew

that it meant just that.

That the convict who stepped across

that line without being ordered to do so

invited hot lead from the rifles

of the guards from the towers.

Trigger happy morons

who needed no second invitation.

In every prison population

there is always a leader

and Chuck Daniels, serving a life term

was just that.

My warden of that time

was of the old school

In the language of the prison world,

a con hater.

To him, convicts were brutes.

And brute force was the only thing

that would keep them in line.

Pete Donovan!

Close the gate.

Well Pete,

you had a little trouble this morning.

- What have you got to say for yourself?

- Nothing.

Destroying prison property

is a serious offence.

Haven't you got

any explanation to offer?

You try sleeping in

one of them sweat boxes.

- According to regulations I should

put you in solitary. - Go ahead.

Drop 30 days on me.

a concrete bed'll be better than that

stinking mattress I've been sleeping on.

- 10 days solitary.

- Wait a minute.

He could do 10 days

standing on his head.

Getting temperamental again eh?

Lock him down for 30.

Take that long to cool off,

a big boy like Pete.

Get him out of here.

- Chick Fullis

- I think 10 days is enough, Warden.

10 days?

What do you think we're running here,

a flop house for these guys?

Fullis, why did you start a fight

with Matese in the yard?

I didn't start anything.

- The report says...

- The report's all wrong, Captain.

- What about it Sergeant?

- All I know is Matese's in the hospital.

Somebody gave him a pretty good

working over, Matese says it was Fullis.

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Crane Wilbur

Crane Wilbur (November 17, 1886 – October 18, 1973) was an American writer, actor and director for stage, radio and screen. He was born in Athens, New York. Wilbur is best remembered for playing Harry Marvin in The Perils of Pauline. He died in Toluca Lake, California.He was a prolific writer and director of at least 67 films from the silent era into the sound era, but it was as an actor that he found lasting recognition, particularly playing opposite Pearl White in the iconoclastic serial The Perils of Pauline. He brought to the first motion pictures merry eyes, a great, thick crop of wavy, black hair and an athlete's interest in swimming and horseback riding. Twelve years of stage experience prepared him for his venture into the new art of silent motion pictures. He was one of the first to explore the techniques required to communicate through the wordless shadows of the movies. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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