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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Precode Lawyer On The Loose

 

Director Irving Cummings with Evelyn Brent

Attorney For The Defense Is 1932's Full Court Press


High-powered mouthpiece Edmund Lowe discards mistress Evelyn Brent and she spends the rest of 70 minutes trying to make him sorry for it. As with programmers done at fleet pace, there is love rivalry, a murder frame, then miraculous exposure for the guilty party, all done on Columbia discount terms. Moments linger: Dwight Frye being dragged off to the chair for a sock opener, smooth operating Lowe catching sleaze Bradley Page in Brent's love nest he's underwriting. Precode is accommodated, Attorney For The Defense a good one fewer have seen for having been out of circulation a long time. TCM has leased it, and Sony's Movie channel even ran the thing HD. 30's screen lawyering was status barely above rackets, and always there was hand-holding between "shysters" and the underworld. Practitioners were shown to have cash, full-service digs as in cook/servants, and revolving women in wait. Young men by the score must have gone home from pix like Attorney For The Defense to fill out law school applications. Lowe was known by 1932 as an angle player, having made a chump of military protocol in Flagg/Quirt comedies, plus wising off in civilian dress elsewhere. As expressed during blow-off of Brent, he'd rather have a cleansing Turkish bath than be kissed further by her lying lips. The courtroom dénouement is outlandish even by lax movie standards, but that's fun of this rough gem of a precode.


4 Comments:

Blogger DBenson said...

Instantly think of the Warren William "Perry Mason" flicks, where's he's a merry borderline shyster. His clients may be innocent, but you suspect that doesn't matter to him. In the first film his firm is massive, with an in-house psychologist, but after that he's simply very prosperous. It's heavily hinted that he and Della Street wrestle on the carpet after hours (but he does marry her in his last film).

Earl Stanley Gardner was not amused. After William left the part, they made two more rebooting Mason as a young, straight-arrow hero. Then the TV series, where Gardner's personal involvement assured dour Raymond Burr would be a model of propriety, no matter how wicked the murder victims and suspects might be.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

I've seen so many of these lawyer pre-codes on TCM that they're starting to blur in my memory. I think I've seen this one, but...

9:33 PM  
Blogger Filmfanman said...

Way back in the 1930s, half or more of all Americans lived not in cities, but in the country, that is to say, in rural areas - so my question is, were country lawyers depicted in 1930s movies as being at all like these slick big-city lawyers?
As a matter of fact, were there any films at all released in the 1930s depicting country lawyers ( other than Honest Abe Lincoln)?
These movies of the 1930s depict those big-city lawyers as being not just fast-talking city slickers, but as the slickest of all fast-talking city slickers - and I find that entertaining; moreover, in the early sound era, it counted as novel entertainment too, just like any kind of snappy patter in the movies couldn't help but be.

1:08 PM  
Blogger DBenson said...

"A countryman between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats." -- Ben Franklin in "Poor Richard's Almanac".

There's a mildly interesting 1937 comedy titled "True Confession" with Fred MacMurray as a struggling lawyer who's TOO honest. When wife Carole Lombard is charged with murder, Fred undertakes to prove it was self-defense. Thing is, Carole is innocent but lets everybody (including Fred) believe she did kill in self-defense, and the case makes Fred's reputation. Then a blackmailer threatens to ruin everything by revealing she's innocent ...

5:30 PM  

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