Shot by John Ford in an almost docudrama style, this film portrays the goings on when Abraham Lincoln was shot. Panic amongst the American people, folks locked up for no good reason at all, scapegoats found and executed, it all seems far too real for comfort in the current era. Warner Baxter plays the eponymous prisoner, Dr. Samuel Mudd, a man who inadvertently aids assassin John Wilkes Booth after Lincoln's shooting. The fact that he is a Southerner leads to an instant assumption of guilt, and here the story does go into predictable territory.
A prison island with a sadistic guard, outbreaks of illness with the only doctor locked up and reviled, stormy weather, the whole works are thrown on by Ford, no doubt stretching the truth where he can to make a good story. And why not.....
The cinematography is superb, captured by a superlative transfer, the acting (mostly) understated enough, and the film makes a terrific addition to Eureka's Masters Of Cinema series.
The DVD adds an incisive commentary, a rather stilted interview and a collection of promotional martial from the films original release. A 28 page book makes excellent reading, with essays and interviews and more stills of promotional posters and the like.