Money was what gangster Vince M. Falcone wanted most and he did lay hands on millions of dollars by fair means or (mostly) foul. But once he became rich what he craved for was respectability. So why not marry a lovely society lady? And with a young daughter as a bonus Mister Falcone could show off among the creme de la creme. Of course when times got rough he felt free to desert his wife and little girl. Fortunately Taps, a lawyer working for the underworld, will console them both. Written by
The defense attorney becomes the target...of his own client!
It doesn't matter that defense attorney Melvyn Douglas has gotten racketeer Preston Foster off almost three dozen times for various crimes, but when he is sentenced to nine years in prison for tax evasion (a la Al Capone), Foster wants revenge when he finds out that Douglas has been romancing his estranged wife (Lila Lee) with whom he has a child. It doesn't matter that Lee left him long before he was sent to prison; Foster wants revenge, and after successfully escaping, makes his way back to New York to confront the man who committed a lot of amoral acts to have earlier kept him out of prison.
This fast moving crime drama is unique not only in the fact that it paralleled recent history but showed an actual criminal trial where there was no jury, only a judge (Charles Coburn in his feature film debut) presided. Once he gets to prison, Foster is bombarded by unwanted pressures from stuttering prisoner Roscoe Ates telling him of his own issues with his defense attorney. This of course, leads to his desperate move to escape and of course a very dramatic confrontation at the end.
While some may consider this nothing more than an extended variation of MGM's "Crime Doesn't Pay" series, this is brisk and powerfully gripping. There's never any doubt how this will end, but performances are excellent and the script doesn't milk the audience by adding unnecessary plot developments. Overall, a nice little find and one worth watching again.
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