Sir Douglas Rolls had earned the reputation of being England's greatest barrister. But he has just been informed by Doctor Hackett, specialist on diseases of the heart, that overwork has ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Margaret Bannerman ...
Laura Locke
Arthur Margetson ...
Leslie Locke
Richard Bird ...
Eric Hammond
Sam Livesey ...
Sir Henry Linguard
Frank Atkinson ...
Hal Gordon ...
Percival Brown
Kathleen Harrison ...
Agnes Carter - Locke's Maid
Robert Horton ...
Doctor Hackett
Alec Fraser ...
Jeanne Stuart ...
Phyllis Ware
J. Fisher White ...
Laurence Hanray ...
O.B. Clarence ...
Mr. Hammond
Mary Jerrold ...
Mrs. Hammond


Sir Douglas Rolls had earned the reputation of being England's greatest barrister. But he has just been informed by Doctor Hackett, specialist on diseases of the heart, that overwork has taken its toll and if Sir Douglas does not take off for several months he stands a good chance of dying soon. Back in his chambers, a solicitor named Pope was waiting to see him. Pope's firm handled most of the important legal cases. Pope was there to ask Sir Douglas to take up the defense of his client, Leslie Locke. Sir Douglas's mind went back some twenty years when he was struggling for recognition, and he had been in love with a very beautiful girl ---Laura Hyde. Sir Douglas had never spoken of his love, however, because he was very poor, and wanted to be quite certain, before he married, that he would be able to give his wife every luxury. Another admirer of Laura at the time was a well-to-do, volatile and impetuous young artist who, before the plodding Rolls knew what was happening, had swept ... Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A great counsel is dying, but fights with the last of his strength for a man who is on trial for his life!


Mystery | Romance





Release Date:

26 November 1934 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Ever heard of Matheson Lang? Well, well worth the watch!!
7 June 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Anybody here ever hear of Matheson Lang? Well, he was the Laurence Olivier/Lon Chaney, Sr. of his day. He was also one of the founders and first directors of The Old Vic in Britain. I bring this to the attention, because it's interesting that this great and famous actor of the beginning of the twentieth century is basically wholly forgotten today. I also bring it to the attention here because last night I watched one of his 32 films, "The Great Defender" (1934), a fine old-fashioned mystery/drama/romance made in Britain by British International Pictures (BIP), starring Matheson, Margaret Bannerman, Arthur Margetson, Richard Bird, Sam Livesey, Robert Horton, J. Fisher White, and others.

Matheson plays Sir Douglas Rolls, a great defense lawyer who is diagnosed as dying of several ailments and told to cut out his career and take it easy, travel, try to preserve himself a tad longer. Instead, he has his former love (played by Margaret Bannerman) come to him asking him to defend her husband against a murder charge. Her husband, an artist, we have watched have an affair with the murdered woman, an artist's model who has been modeling for a fine nude portrait. She also - something not known by all the different men - has been three-timing the artist, her fiancé, and another man. The artist's wife - Bannerman - still loved by Sir Douglas Rolls, gets his attention, and he agrees to defend her husband anyway - and she wishes him to defend her husband whether or not he has been faithful to her... The program then shifts to a Perry Mason like courtroom drama.

Well done, if a tad tedious by modern standards because it is rather too talky, but really interesting and fun to watch. The film harps back to a twenties stage tradition as much as anything. Still, with Matheson

  • slightly ripe, rather in the Richard Dix talkie tradition - the show

plays remarkably well. I'm really glad I had the opportunity to watch a Matheson vehicle.

Matheson made the original "Mr. Wu" in 1919, several years before Lon Chaney, Sr. re-essayed the role. Matheson played Chinese characters several other times, too, for that matter, much like Chaney. His rather famous (in Britain) film, "Little Friend" (1934), made the same year as this one, has 15 year old Nova Pilbeam (in her first film) witnessing a nasty divorce of her parents, Matheson and Bannerman (the latter the same actress who plays his former love in this film). Matheson essayed many, many historical roles, too, from Drake the English privateer to Guy Fawkes, Dick Turpin, Henry, King of Navarre, Henry V of England, and Cardinal Medici. He began in movies in 1916 playing Shylock in Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice" and played his last role in 1936. Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1879, he died in Barbadoes in 1948.

This is truly worth finding and watching!

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