Up the River

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Up the River
Up the River (film poster).jpg
Poster featuring Humphrey Bogart
Directed by John Ford
Produced by William Fox
Written by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Starring Spencer Tracy
Claire Luce
Warren Hymer
Humphrey Bogart
Music by James F. Hanley
Joseph McCarthy
Cinematography Joseph H. August
Edited by Frank E. Hull
Distributed by Fox Film Corporation
Release date
  • October 12, 1930 (1930-10-12)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Up the River (1930) is an American pre-Code comedy film about escaped convicts, directed by John Ford and starring Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart in their feature film debuts. (Although Bogart is billed fourth, his role is as large as Tracy's.) The film was remade by 20th Century-Fox in 1938, entitled Up the River, which starred Preston Foster and Tony Martin.


Two convicts, St. Louis (Spencer Tracy) and Dannemora Dan (Warren Hymer) befriend another convict named Steve (Humphrey Bogart), who is in love with woman's-prison inmate Judy (Claire Luce). Steve is paroled, promising Judy that he will wait for her release five months later. He returns to his hometown in New England and his mother's home.

However, he is followed there by Judy's former "employer", the scam artist Frosby (Gaylord Pendleton). Frosby threatens to expose Steve's prison record if the latter refuses to go along with a scheme to defraud his neighbors. Steve goes along with it until Frosby defrauds his mother. Fortunately, at this moment St. Louis and Dannemora Dan have broken out of prison and come to Steve's aid, taking away a gun he planned to use on the fraudster, instead stealing back bonds stolen by Frosby. They return to prison in time for its annual baseball game against a rival penitentiary. The film closes with St. Louis on the pitcher's mound with his catcher, Dannemora Dan, presumably ready to lead their team to victory.[1][2]




Tracy had starred in three shorts earlier the same year and Bogart had been an unbilled extra in a silent film a decade before, as well as starring in two short films in the past two years, but this is the first credited feature film for both actors. Up the River was the only feature film that Tracy and Bogart ever made together. They tried to make The Desperate Hours in 1955, but neither would consent to second billing, so the role intended for Tracy went to Fredric March instead. It was the only film Bogart made with John Ford. Tracy and Ford worked together almost three decades later on their film The Last Hurrah (1958). Bogart was billed several names down from top-billed Tracy in Up the River but his role is equally large.


  1. ^ Up the River at TCM Movie Database
  2. ^ Hall, Mordaunt. "Movies: About Up the River". The New York Times. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 


  • New England Vintage Film Society, Inc. (2008). Spencer Tracy: The Pre-Code Legacy of a Hollywood Legend. Newton, MA: New England Vintage Film Society. ISBN 978-1-4363-4138-7. 

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