I enjoy old b-movies. They tend to be harmless and occasionally amusing. Parole, Inc. might be a c-movie, however, since it’s not from a studio (I wonder if direct-to-DVD will ever, since real studios are now making them, raise to a b-movie quality level). Parole, Inc. isn’t really amusing. It’s a heavy-handed looked at parole board corruption and there’s even scrolling text at the beginning to inform the audience it’s a serious problem in the United States. I thought the scroll was funny, but then the first scene is someone dictating a report with exactly the same information, but Parole, Inc.‘s got a lot of superfluous little things. It’s a competent seventy minutes, but it’s not artfully made by any stretch.
I found the movie through Evelyn Ankers, who made Parole, Inc. after her Universal contract was up, and she plays a female mobster named Jojo. Somehow, while she doesn’t pull it off in any way, she doesn’t embarrass herself (another benefit of b-movie brevity, actors don’t have too much to do). Around halfway through, I realized the lead (the cop on the inside of the gang) Michael O’Shea, was doing a good job. But he’s unappealing in some awkward way, one I won’t even bother trying to describe, but the film’s so concisely plotted–it takes place over a month or so and, while there are a lot of characters, the mob henchmen are all one blob so they don’t get confusing. Charles Bradstreet is sometimes bad, but he’s in it for the first half and he’s appealing. When he goes and O’Shea doesn’t have a response, the lack of any concern really puts Parole, Inc.‘s genre apart–it’s unthinkable O’Shea wouldn’t respond, but maybe that lack of any depth is what makes Parole, Inc. watchable. It doesn’t try and it doesn’t fail.
There is one interesting aspect, structurally, about the film–we know at the beginning O’Shea gets badly injured while solving the case. The successful pursuit of the criminals isn’t in question. Except, nothing’s done with that structure, it’s not taken advantage of in any way. There’s no suspense to Parole, Inc., which there should be, but somehow the filmmakers were fully convinced their paint-by-the-numbers, no subtext story was compelling. And it is, which is weird.
Directed by Alfred Zeisler; screenplay by Sherman L. Lowe, from a story by Lowe and Royal K. Cole; director of photography, Gilbert Warrenton; edited by John Faure; music by Alexander Laszlo; produced by Constantin J. David; released by Equity Pictures Corporation.
Starring Michael O’Shea (Richard Hendricks), Turhan Bey (Barney Rodescu), Evelyn Ankers (Jojo Dumont), Virginia Lee (Glenda Palmer), Charles Bradstreet (Harry Palmer) and Lyle Talbot (Hughes).