“Invisible Stripes” was released in 1939 and it was directed by Lloyd Bacon. The movie had three mega-players in it, George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, and a young William Holden. Basically it’s about a gangster, who gets out of Sing Sing, and tries to go straight with the law, but is protective of his younger brother, so he sacrifices his life. George Raft played the older brother, Holden played the younger, and Bogart’s role was a friend that got of Sing Sing too, but he never tried to go with the law.
Raft’s character tries to do good, he gets a legit job after many personal trials, but he sees his brother go downhill, so it’s his need to help his brother, that foreshadows where the movie is going to go. It’s crime melodrama that will make you think about life and family. The title goes great with the theme of course, here you have Raft’s character that tries to look past his jail time, but his prison stripes are still on him because a lot of movie only see him a ex-con than as a worker. One person bullies him, a boss fires him, it just shows that giving second chances to people isn’t always easy. In the movie you almost have to feel sorry for him, but it makes a good point, Crime Doesn’t Pay! It’s still an effective movie today, because of the theme.
Jane Bryan, played the girlfriend of Holden’s character, and her performance was touching as was Flora Robson’s, who starred as the mother of the Taylor boys. The two main actresses gave wonderful dramatic performances. The relationship between Mrs. Taylor and her eldest son tugs at the heart strings, because of what happens throughout of the movie. The movie is predictable with some scenes, but nevertheless it’s a good melodrama. The plot itself is interesting enough to stick to the last scenes too.
Like stated before an early film by three A-listers of their time is exciting to see. Bogart in his earlier roles was always the bad guy, he never had too many good attributes to his characters, though this one is a little nicer. Each played off of each other pretty good. You could feel the agony that Holden’s character felt, everyone wants to be rich at some point in life, and he gets a taste of that somewhat, but at a very high cost.
What the film does is it starts off with a sweeter note and seems to just get darker from there, which worked for the movie actually. The first beginning scenes do feel a little soapy, but once the middle starts picking up, the whole movie just really goes good together. It’s a good movie to show about fate, that you have the power to change if you really want too, and how to fix your circumstances.
This 1939 crime melodrama deserves a solid rating of 3 1/2 stars. It’s theme is still there, the acting is pretty good, and you can look past at some of the more sappier moments. It starts off a little slow but picks up real fast.