William Keighley's Each Dawn I Die set the tone for the prison genre. Oz it is not, but for 1939, Each Dawn I Die presents viewer insights to the jargon, code of ethics, and behavior of hardened convicts. John Wray as Pete the prison guard barks through his lines like a rattled pit bull. George Raft, who seemed to be forever dressed in prison garb, plays Stacey a "lifer" who is sprung to aid newsreporter Ross (James Cagney) who has been framed for manslaughter. Cagney shows glimpses of his emotional explosiveness as Ross breaks down befoe a parole board. Raft is in prime form cooly delivering lines that would make Edward G. Robinson proud. The prison break scenes are shot and edited realistically and provide reference points for future prison films such as Brute Force and Caged. Still other scenes are highly improbable and mirorred in Hollywood fare. ( Stacey giving himself up in front of the penitentiary, and the warden's mushy sentimentality to name just two). These shortcomings restricted Each Dawn I Die from attaining a higher echelon among crime films. Still the sixty-one year old film retains its credibility among the genre and is worth owning.