7.6/10
861
23 user 12 critic

Counsellor at Law (1933)

TV-G | | Drama | 25 December 1933 (USA)
Successful attorney has his Jewish heritage and poverty-stricken background brought home to him when he learns his wife has been unfaithful.

Director:

Writers:

(play), (screenplay)
Reviews
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A naive girl just out of a cloistered orphanage finds that being a 'good fairy' to strangers makes life awfully complicated.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Margaret Sullavan, Herbert Marshall, Frank Morgan
Glamour (1934)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A married chorus girl falls in love with a composer.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Paul Lukas, Constance Cummings, Phillip Reed
Dead End (1937)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The Dead End Kids, an unemployed architect, and gangster Baby Face Martin interact with an East Side neighborhood over one day and night.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Sylvia Sidney, Joel McCrea, Humphrey Bogart
Dodsworth (1936)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A retired auto manufacturer and his wife take a long-planned European vacation only to find that they want very different things from life.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A camp butcher on an Albany night boat dreams of the South Seas.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Slim Summerville, Zasu Pitts, Una Merkel
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Boy who thought his father a war hero finds he was really a deserter.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Tom Brown, Slim Summerville, Richard Cromwell
Lady Killer (1933)
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A former gangster makes it big in Hollywood, but his old life catches up with him.

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: James Cagney, Mae Clarke, Margaret Lindsay
Hell's Heroes (1929)
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

When four men rob a bank, one is killed and the other three escape into the desert where they lose their horses in a storm. Finding a woman who gives birth, they are made godfathers only to... See full summary »

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Charles Bickford, Raymond Hatton, Fred Kohler
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Mirabel wins a $5,000 lottery which will enable her to live like a queen in New York. There she meets Sandro, a bellboy who is really a prince, so she does get to be a queen after all.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Francis Lederer, Frances Dee, Benita Hume
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In a small Pacific village, a widowed fisherman marries a girl young enough to be his daughter. Complications ensue when the new wife falls in love with her husband's son.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Walter Huston, Douglass Montgomery, Helen Chandler
The Storm (1930)
Adventure | Western | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Burr and Dave, two close friends who have backed each other up in countless difficulties, are torn apart by the arrival of a woman, Manette, who becomes stranded with them in their cabin ... See full summary »

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Lupe Velez, Paul Cavanagh, William 'Stage' Boyd
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An ambitious lumberjack abandons his saloon girl lover so that he can marry into wealth, but years later becomes infatuated with the woman's daughter.

Directors: Howard Hawks, William Wyler, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Edward Arnold, Joel McCrea, Frances Farmer
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Clara Langsner ...
John Hammond Dailey ...
Charlie McFadden (as J. Hammond Dailey)
...
Robert Gordon ...
Henry Susskind (as Bobby Gordon)
Malka Kornstein ...
...
Marvin Kline ...
T.H. Manning ...
Edit

Storyline

Crackerjack lawyer George Simon is a workaholic, and a successful one, at that. Having just gotten a woman acquited of a murder charge, he is juggling cases ranging from breaking a will to quashing the disorderly conduct charges against the son of a woman he knew in the old neighborhood, before he became a hot shot counsellor. He adores his wife Cora, who feels she married a bit below her station. His step-children think so, too. His secretary Rexy adores him, although he is oblivious to the fact. Threatened with losing his practice due to a discretion in a case seven years earlier, his wife leaves for Europe until the scandal blows over, and he comes to realize (just in time) who his true friends are. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Great is the word for...COUNSELLOR AT LAW!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

TV-G | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

25 December 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Staranwalt von Manhattan  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Victor Adams was cast in the role of David Adams and that character is mentioned in the movie, his scenes were cut from the film before release. See more »

Quotes

George Simon: Well, darling, you'll make a gentleman of me yet!
See more »

Connections

Featured in American Masters: Directed by William Wyler (1986) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Barrymore Beats The WASPS
6 February 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Elmer Rice's long running Broadway play about a Jewish lawyer who never forgets his class roots became a hit for star Paul Muni. If the screen rights had been bought by Warner Brothers instead of Universal, I'm sure Muni might have repeated his part. It's a pity we have no record of his performance because I'm sure he was a natural for the role.

Although the casting might seem bizarre John Barrymore does a superb job in the role Muni created om Counsellor at Law. This is a man who did live out the American dream, rising to the very top of his profession by hard work and a natural aptitude for the profession of law. He lives a good life style with a trophy WASP wife and a couple of step children who really don't like him. He never forgets where he came from and is available to many from the Lower East Side Neighborhood from where he sprung, pro bono.

Counsellor At Law with its lead character of George Simon is no doubt based on real life attorney Samuel Leibowitz who at that time was engaged in the biggest case of his career, defending the Scottsboro Boys in Alabama. There are also echoes of another famous Jewish attorney, Louis D. Brandeis who sat on the United States Supreme Court. Like Barrymore's character Simon, Brandeis and Leibowitz both aroused the jealousy and resentment of some of the old time lawyers of the WASP white shoe persuasion. It was some of those who led the opposition to Brandeis when Woodrow Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court.

Here the opposition is in the person of Elmer Brown, your basic bigoted White AngloSaxon Protestant whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower or shortly after and think of America as their private preserve. He's gotten some information that on a previous case that involved Barrymore getting John Qualen off, an alibi witness is saying the alibi he provided was false. Problem is the alibi was false and the witness is saying Barrymore suborned perjury.

Universal was fortunate enough to get Elmer Rice to adapt his own play for the screen and William Wyler does a fine job in directing so much so that you're not conscious of the fact that it all takes place within Barrymore's rather large office. Though it's not shot in those long takes like Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rope, Counsellor at Law has that same feel about it.

It also has several plot lines running at once, very similar to William Wyler's later work, The Detective Story. Barrymore's marriage is on the rocks, wife Doris Kenyon is seeing Melvyn Douglas on the side. Barrymore has also been asked to defend the son of his mother's friend played by future director Vincent Sherman who is a Communist radical making inflammatory speeches in Union Square back in the day when that was the thing to do.

One very ironic scene involves young Sherman with his head bandaged waiting with his mother in the anteroom, where Barrymore's snobbish bratty stepkids are waiting. The young boy stepson is played by Richard Quine who also became a pretty noted film director himself.

There are also some very good performances by Bebe Daniels as Barrymore's loyal secretary and an ironically funny one by Isabelle Jewell as the switchboard operator.

John Barrymore had a very good grasp at screen characters who were reaching the end of their rope. Counsellor at Law very much follows in the same vein as his characters in Grand Hotel and Dinner at Eight.

With Louis D. Brandeis and Samuel Leibowitz very much in the public eye, Counsellor at Law had a built in audience when it was released. Nevertheless 75 years later it holds up very well for today's audience.

I don't think even Paul Muni could have played it better.


10 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Who was the martyr haunting the halls? pontifikator
Criminally Obscure Masterpiece sametic
Discuss Counsellor at Law (1933) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page