A surprisingly skillful melodrama starring Blue as a shady politician who seeks to boost his public image by becoming the guardian of a poor young girl he has met on the street. The girl, Graham, is employed as a pickpocket by fortune teller Fealy. Outraged that Blue wants to steal away her
meal ticket, Fealy lays a curse on the politician's head and predicts that Blue will be killed by a lion. Blue laughs off the curse and proceeds with his plan. As the years go by, Blue's money, influence, and power grow, and the girl (now played by Browne) returns home from finishing school an
attractive young woman. Blue is instantly smitten with his charge and proposes marriage. Browne gently rejects her guardian's offer by stating that she would prefer to continue her studies. Blue, however, suspects otherwise and sends one of his goons off to shadow Bakewell, a young man to whom
Browne is obviously attracted. Though Browne is in love with Bakewell, she rejects his proposal as well because she is ashamed of her past. Seeking to wrest Browne from Bakewell, Blue tells the youth of her street-wise ways, but the information does nothing to deter Bakewell. Frustrated, Blue has
his hoodlums work Bakewell over and hold him captive. Luckily, Bakewell manages to escape, leaving Browne at Blue's mercy. The crooked politician gets into a violent fight with Browne, and she hits him over the head with a decorative bronze lion. Terrified that she has fulfilled the old fortune
teller's prophecy, Browne flees and confesses the crime to Bakewell. Bakewell decides to dispose of the body and runs upstairs, interrupting one of Blue's hoods who is stuffing the boss' body in a trunk. The youth takes the trunk and, together with Browne, boards the next train out of town.
Unknown to the pair, detectives are following them. Plagued with guilt, Browne tries to confess to the police, but just as she is about to leave, the train collides head-on with another locomotive. Bakewell and Browne escape the carnage and assume that Blue's body will be incinerated in the
wreckage. Much to their surprise, Blue's henchman emerges and tells them that the boss is very much alive and is just hiding from the police in the trunk. (It seems the law had gotten wind of Blue's questionable political dealings and he was looking for an excuse to disappear.) Bakewell risks his
life to save Blue from the fire and succeeds, only to hand the bewildered crook over to the detectives. While the plot tends to get a bit ludicrous at times, ON PROBATION is a fine example of "Poverty Row" films at their best. When buoyed by decent production values, these films can be
entertaining, even vital, examples of Hollywood on a shoestring.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A surprisingly skillful melodrama starring Blue as a shady politician who seeks to boost his public image by becoming the guardian of a poor young girl he has met on the street. The girl, Graham, is employed as a pickpocket by fortune teller Fealy. Outrage… (more)