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Up the River
Directed by John Ford
Produced by William Fox
Written by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Starring Spencer Tracy
Claire Luce
Warren Hymer
Humphrey Bogart
Cinematography Joseph H. August
Editing by Frank E. Hull
Distributed by Fox Film Corporation
Release date(s) 12 October 1930
Running time 92 min
Country  United States
Language English

Up the River (1930) is a comedy film about escaped convicts, directed by John Ford and featuring Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart in their feature film debuts.



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). Eventually, Steve and Judy are released, they get married and head to a small New England town where no one knows of their criminal pasts. It isn't long, however, before the couple's future happiness is threatened by dishonest salesman Frosby (Gaylord Pendleton), who framed Judy. Frosby threatens to expose Steve's prison record if the latter refuses to go along with a scheme to defraud his neighbors. St. Louis and Dannemora Dan break out of prison during a theatrical production and arrive in New England to appropriate the bonds Steve's mother had turned over to Frosby, and they return in time to win the prison's annual baseball game.[1][2]


  • Spencer Tracy as Saint Louis
  • Claire Luce as Judy
  • Warren Hymer as Dannemora Dan
  • Humphrey Bogart as Steve
  • William Collier, Sr. as Pop
  • Joan Marie Lawes as Jean
  • George MacFarlane as Jessup
  • Robert Emmett O'Connor as Warden
  • Steve Pendleton as Morris
  • Sharon Lynn as Edith LaVerne
  • Noel Francis as Sophie
  • Goodee Montgomery as Kit
  • Bob Burns as Slim (billed as Robert Burns)
  • John Swor as Clem
  • Louise Mackintosh as Mrs. Massey


Tracy had starred in three shorts earlier the same year and Bogart had been an unbilled extra in a silent movie a decade before, but this is the first credited feature film for both actors. This was the only feature film that close friends 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.

Claire Luce (1903–1989) made very few films, but was on Broadway in many plays from 1923–1952. She should not be confused with the more famous author and playwright Clare Boothe Luce (1903–1987).

The movie was remade by 20th Century-Fox in 1938, with Preston Foster and Tony Martin respectively in the Tracy and Bogart roles.



  • 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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