Jenny Wren coerces banker Priam Andes to have a dinner party at his shorefront estate Crestwood, and instructs him to invite three other men, each of whom she plans to extort money from. ... See full summary »
There's a great script here, fine players and some dynamite camera work by Ted Tetzlaff in this story about District Attorney Edmund Lowe. He sends the wrong man to the electric chair, quits to go into defense work and make amends, and winds up on trial for the murder of Evelyn Brent. However, there is something severely lacking that stops this script from Jo Swerling, who did great scripts for great directors like Capra and Hitchcock, from being great. Perhaps it's the way that every time you expect things to burst loose, the shot changes from a pacing moving camera into a tight two-shot. Perhaps it's the lack of overt action -- although given that Swerling wrote the screenplay for Hitchcock's claustrophobic LIFEBOAT, that answer doesn't feel right. Maybe it's the way that everyone wears their clothes, as if they've just come from a fresh pressing at the tailor shop.
Whatever is wrong with this movie, it winds up being too talky. Given that the director is Irving Cummings, who started directing in 1921, and that stars Lowe and Evelyn Brent were seasoned silent performers, it should work brilliantly, But it just works very well instead. Ah, well.
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