Far-fetched but entertaining courtroom drama has Edmund Lowe playing lawyer William Burton who makes a living and headline off of sending people to the electric chair. Things change when he sends a man (Dwight Frye) to the chair who turns out to be innocent so the lawyer gives up his D.A. job and promises to support the man's widow and child. Ten years later the kid is now an adult in college and might have killed a woman who was trying to blackmail the lawyer. ATTORNEY FOR THE DEFENSE comes from Columbia and is a good example of a pre-code drama with some real sexuality as well as a dark plot full of twists and murder. I'm not going to sit here and say the film was flawless but it's certainly an entertaining picture that manages to keep one caught up in the story from the story to the end. I've always been very hit and miss on Lowe as an actor with most of his films and performances just not connecting with me but that's certainly not the case here because this is the best I've ever seen him. I thought the performance was excellent no matter what the screenplay called for. This includes him being cocky early on and more sensitive towards the end of the film. In the movie's highlight, after news breaks that the man was innocent, the lawyer goes to see the man's family and this is an exceptionally great sequence with Lowe really selling the emotions. Evelyn Brent is a real snake as the woman using blackmail and Constance Cummings is also very good as the lawyer's partner. Donald Dilloway is also good as the grown up boy and Dorothy Peterson is also good in her role. The supporting cast includes the before mentioned Frye, Nat Pendleton and Clarence Muse. The courtroom scene contains some very good energy, although the twist in the story is pretty far-fetched. Still, fans of these early courtroom dramas has enough working here to make this worth sitting through.
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