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Two Seconds

Overview

Similar in theme to Ambrose Bierce's classic story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, this odd melodrama chronicles the last moments in the life of a man about to be executed in the electric chair, at a maximum security prison loosely modeled on Sing Sing. In the two seconds that it takes for the executioner to pull the switch, convicted murderer John Allen (Edward G. Robinson) flashes back over his life, and the incidents that led him to this tragic state; that flashback forms the bulk of the picture. Allen ...
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Overview

Similar in theme to Ambrose Bierce's classic story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, this odd melodrama chronicles the last moments in the life of a man about to be executed in the electric chair, at a maximum security prison loosely modeled on Sing Sing. In the two seconds that it takes for the executioner to pull the switch, convicted murderer John Allen (Edward G. Robinson) flashes back over his life, and the incidents that led him to this tragic state; that flashback forms the bulk of the picture. Allen claims that he is indeed guilty and deserves to die -- though not for the murder of which he is accused. It seems he was an ironworker, and befriended Bud Clark (Preston S. Foster) on the job, who was far more outgoing, optimistic, and well-adjusted than he. One night Allen got drunk, and instantly married Shirley Day (Vivienne Osborne), a woman he met at a dance hall club; meanwhile, Clark discovered the woman's ongoing affair with the club owner, Tony (J. Carrol Naish) and tried to warn Allen. Disinclined to believe this story, Allen punched him in a bitter rage while the men were stationed atop a high structure, knocking Clark off and sending him to his death. Allen then won a great deal of money at the track and used it to repay Tony, from whom Shirley had borrowed cash for food and rent. In the process, however, he discovered the two together and shot and killed Shirley in response to her infidelity. Thus, though he was actually incarcerated and sentenced to death for mariticide, he claims he should be exonerated for this and instead held guilty for the murder of Clark, who didn't deserve to die. This film didn't fare well with critics or viewers, who were used to seeing Robinson play the heavy in action-laden films. It thus quickly faded from view and has never been issued on video, though it occasionally turns up on cable. It packs in a thoroughly bizarre twist in its final act that will not be disclosed here.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/17/2009
  • UPC: 883316222348
  • Original Release: 1932
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: B&W / Full Frame
  • Time: 1:08:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 45,365

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Edward G. Robinson John Allen
Preston S. Foster Bud Clark
Vivienne Osborne Shirley Day
J. Carrol Naish Tony
Guy Kibbee Bookie
Adrienne Dore Annie
Dorothea Wolbert Lizzie
Edward McWade Doctor
Berton Churchill Warden
William Janney College Boy
Otto Hoffman Justice Of The Peace
June Gittelson Fat Girl
Frederick Burton Judge
Harry Beresford Doctor
Gladys Lloyd Woman
Lew Brice Reporter
Jill Dennett Tart
Frederic Howard Reporter
John Kelly Masher
Matt McHugh Masher
Franklin Parker Reporter
Helena Phillips Evans Mrs. Smith
Luana Walters Tart
Harry Woods Executioner
Technical Credits
Mervyn LeRoy Director
Leo F. Forbstein Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Anton Grot Art Director
Terrell O. Morse Editor
Sol Polito Cinematographer
Harvey Thew Screenwriter
Hal B. Wallis Producer
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