Stephen Ashe, an upper class alcoholic defense attourney, successfully defends local mobster Ace Wilfong in a murder case. After his daughter Jan Ashe breaks her engagement to polo player Dwight Winthrop and starts an affair with Wilfong, she finds that the liason is not easily severed when she wants out. Winthrop earns Miss Ashe's true affections by killing Wilfong to break his grip on her. Now the question is, can Stephen Ashe save Winthrop with an impassioned defense speech to the jury? Written by
Gary Jackson <email@example.com>
Lionel Barrymore Gives An Oscar Winning Acting Lesson
They are alike, this father & daughter. Liberal, passionate, willful - they live life on their own terms, disdaining their narrow-minded relations. Few regrets & even fewer apologies cloud either conscious - yet each harbors a character trait that threatens to destroy them. Hers is emotional instability; his, acute alcoholism. Although both will make bad choices that will haunt them, each will continue to see their reflection in the other, unique & individual, A FREE SOUL.
Based on a book by Adela Rogers St. Johns, Norma Shearer gets top billing in this aged but enjoyable soap opera, and she is very good, turning on the histrionics most effectively. But it is Lionel Barrymore who gets full honors - and a Best Actor Oscar - for his portrayal of her brilliant, tragic, lawyer father. Masterfully, he dominates his every scene. His final appearance, a tempestuous summation to a murder trial jury, is considered a classic.
Playing the two very different men in Shearer's life are Clark Gable & Leslie Howard. Gable is excellent, oozing the virility that was about to make him a huge star. Howard deftly underplays his less flashy role and becomes the film's calm center. James Gleason as Barrymore's factotum, and Lucy Beaumont as Barrymore's patrician mother, both give memorable performances. Film mavens will spot Edward Brophy as one of Gable's henchmen & master stutterer Roscoe Ates as the man in the washroom window.
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