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Mary Dugan, a Broadway showgirl, is charged with murder in the knifing death of her wealthy lover, and goes on trial for her life. When her defense counsel appears to bungle his job, Mary's brother Jimmy, a newly licensed attorney, jumps into the case to defend his sister. Jimmy's courtroom style is unconventional, but he seems to be holding his own against the prosecuting attorney... until a surprise testimony changes the course of the trial. Written by
Dan Navarro <email@example.com>
A Great Piece of Theatre, Expertly Transferred to the Screen!
M-G-M's second "all talking picture" ("Broadway Melody" was number one) is set entirely in a court room, except for a brief prologue at the murder scene. In the rather clever hands of director/writer Bayard Veiller, this device (carried over from his stage play) concentrates our interest and attention, rather than dissipating it. Of course, the electricity is sparked not only in the attention-grabbing twists and turns of the brilliantly constructed plot itself but in the ruthless thrust and parry of witness examination, especially when these verbal shocks and barbs are delivered by such skillful players as H.B. Warner and Lewis Stone. The big surprise, however, is that boyish Raymond Hackett (who left movies altogether in 1931 to concentrate on stage work) and Norma Shearer (making her talkie debut) deliver such powerful performances. A little stagy, it's true, but nonetheless effective. A particularly well-chosen roster of support players also adds to the tension.
Production values are high, although some viewers might find the stop-and-start, state-of-the-art sound recording a little distracting.
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