William Powell plays William Foster, a slick attorney who stays within the law, but specializes in representing crooks and shady characters. He's adept at keeping them out of jail, winning ...
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Idealistic attorney Anton Adam makes headlines when he successfully prosecutes a prominent New York racketeer named Gilmurry. Adam's sudden renown attracts the attention of high-profile ... See full summary »
Gardoni, a down-on-his-luck vaudeville performer, is taken in by a fellow performer, a clown who has a bicycle riding act. Gardoni shows his appreciation by stealing the clown's act and his girlfriend, whom he marries.
William Powell plays William Foster, a slick attorney who stays within the law, but specializes in representing crooks and shady characters. He's adept at keeping them out of jail, winning acquittals, and having decisions reversed, thus springing criminals out of prison. He is romantically involved with dancer Irene Manners (Kay Francis), who is two-timing him, although she wants to marry him. She kills a man driving while out with her other man, Jack Defoe (Scott Kolk), who takes the blame. Unfortunately, a ring Foster had just given Irene is found at the crime scene. Foster ends up defending Jack, but when the ring is found, he thinks he is protecting Irene, so pleads guilty to jury tampering, which he had done for the first time to save Irene. After his plea, the the prosecuting DA confides that Jack would have gotten off... Written by
Before he was associated with Myrna Loy over at MGM, during his Paramount years William Powell was teamed with Kay Francis for several films in the early sound era. For The Defense was one of them and it holds up very well today.
According to the Citadel Film series book on his films, Powell's character is based on criminal attorney William Fallon who numbered Arnold Rothstein among his clients. Fallon was a Perry Mason type who worked on the dark side and Powell is just that in this film.
Powell is courting actress Kay Francis, but he makes it abundantly clear he's not the marrying kind. So Francis starts seeing young Scott Kelk and while driving him home she hits a man with her car and kills him. Kelk takes the wrap and wouldn't you know it, Powell becomes his defense attorney. That sets in motion a whole series of consequences for all involved.
Powell whom I've mentioned in other reviews apparently instinctively knew how to handle sound from the beginning of the talkies. He has wonderful chemistry with Kay Francis on this and other collaborations.
Some other people to take note of are James Finlayson the great nemesis of Laurel&Hardy playing a bribed juror. Also William B. Davidson as the District Attorney who does something that Hamilton Burger never got to do with Perry Mason. Finally Thomas Jackson who the following year would play the same kind of dogged police detective in Little Caesar.
For The Defense is a great example of William Powell's smooth playing before his glory years at MGM. A definite must for his legion of fans.
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