This chapter finds Anthony Mann in the depths of “Poverty Row” despair—directing a lower tier thriller for the financially ailing Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). The true story of a man falsely imprisoned for a robbery that killed a police officer inspired Railroaded!, but Henry Hathaway’s competing 20th Century-Fox docudrama Call Northside 777, which was also about the real-life case, adversely affected the Mann picture. In order to avoid a legal entanglement with Fox, PRC was required to make changes, and the director lamented the results. No matter, Railroaded! contains powerfully composed scenes ranging from an intense police interrogation to the opening night time robbery and climactic nightclub shootout, each making brilliant uses of light and shadows. The chapter incorporates a new interview with screenwriter Stewart Stern, who worked with Mann at PRC and Eagle-Lion, along with frame captures from some of the more cinematically significant scenes in the film.
Keywords: PRC, Poverty Row, Hathaway, 20th Century-Fox, Eagle-Lion