Jail House Blues
Universal Pictures

a.k.a "Big House Blues"
a.k.a "Rhapsody in Stripes"

Directed by Albert S. Rogell
Written by Paul Gerard Smith and Harold Tarshis

Story "Rhapsody in Stripes" by Harold Tarshis
A Ken Goldsmith Production

 Released in 1942

     Pendleton plays a convict transformed into an obsessive stage producer when given the job for the prison show.  His preparation is temporarily interrupted when his jail sentence ends, but this give him the chance to round up some new talent as well as reclaim the escapee who had been assigned the duties of feminine lead.  All Pendleton's efforts prove to be worthwhile as Broadway looks like the first stop after prison.  Entertaining forensic show business.



Nat Pendleton

Anne Gwynne ... Doris Daniels

Robert Paige

Horace MacMahon

Samuel S. Hinds

Reed Hadley

Paul Fix


Paul Gerard Smith and Harold Tarshis- Writers 

Albert S. Rogell- Director 

Ken Goldsmith- Producer

Woody Bredell- Cinematographer

Frank Gross- Editor

Full Storyline

Mrs. Alyosius McGonigle McGann is caught once again trying to break her convict son, Sonny McGann, out of prison. She is shocked to learn, however, that Sonny does not want to leave, as he is producing the annual prison show Stick 'Em Up , "the fulfillment of his life's ambition," and has gone so far as to steal his own parole papers. Sonny's show is ruined, however, when Charlie the Chopper, his "leading lady," breaks out. Sonny goes to Warden Boswell and offers to find Charlie if the warden will allow him back into the prison after he returns the escapee. Upon his release, Sonny meets schoolteacher, Doris Daniels (Anne Gwynne), who gives him a ride into town. She introduces him to singer Cliff Bailey, the prize pupil of Doris' father Thomas.

Learning that Cliff is unemployed, Sonny offers to find the singer work. The ex-gangster then breaks into Charlie's old hideout, and is told by the escapee's gang that Charlie has already set sail for the South Seas. Sonny then goes looking for his mother, who is now living in the penthouse of the exclusive Gleaner's Club, where she is running a panhandling racket known as the A.A.P., the Amalgamated Association of Panhandlers. Mrs. McGann asks Sonny to help her eliminate her chief competitor, Rusty Danny, whose beggars are known as the C.B.H.G., the Charity Begins at Home Guild. Sonny hires Cliff to masquerade as a beggar in order to infiltrate Danny's gang.

Disguised as an old man, Cliff is taken to Danny's hideout, where Sonny and his men break up the rival gang. With his mother's business problem solved, Sonny convinces Cliff to take Charlie's place in the prison show. Sonny then breaks back into prison, while his men kidnap all of the top New York drama critics. Just before the show, however, Cliff refuses to dress up as a woman, and underlines his objections by punching Sonny. Singing instead in a clown costume, Cliff is a big hit with the critics and talent scouts, and is offered a singing contract even before the show has finished. The show itself is also a great success, and Cliff and Doris are romantically united. Mrs. McGann then admits to Sonny that she is proud of him, noting that before she married his father, she was in show business herself.


Copyright 2001, 2010