Otis Ferguson has said of Each Dawn I Die
that "the story is of the kind you would have to see to disbelieve." And to be sure, the film is nothing more than a sampler of '30s prison-film conventions. But with the brilliant acting by James Cagney
and the fast-paced and hard-edged direction of William Keighley
, the film clatters past like an express train. Cagney plays Frank Ross, an innocent newspaperman who is railroaded into prison by a corrupt district attorney. In prison, he meets hardened-con Stacey (George Raft
). Frank, at first, doesn't want to associate with Stacey and the other prisoners, but trapped in the hellhole prison, he more and more turns into a bitter con. Finally granted a hearing from the parole board, Frank pleads his innocence, but the parole board is headed by Grayce (Victor Jury), the man responsible for his imprisonment, and his parole is denied, and Frank becomes more hardened and embittered. By this point, Stacey has befriended him and agrees to help Frank prove his innocence.