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John Mitchell is a powerful and ruthless newspaper publisher, who doesn't care who gets hurt if a good story can run in his paper. Caught speeding, by honest cop Terry Condon, his first impulse is to have him broken, but he's talked into having him commended instead by his daughter, Joan Mitchell. Another man, Dan Oliver, is found by a reporter to have embezzled money, though is quietly paying it back, but Mitchell cares not, and spills all in his newsrag, so Oliver is ruined, and jailed. At his sentencing, Oliver produces a gun, and gets away. Later Joan tries to help Oliver's girl Mary by moving her to a new apartment, but the now crazed Oliver misunderstands, shoots Joan's Boyfriend dead and stages it to look like she'd done it. With her on trial for murder, John Mitchell is finally faced with just what his lack of compassion has wrought. Written by
Takes some interesting twists and turns but reaches a conclusion I disagree with completely
John Mitchell (Walter Connolly) runs a newspaper that doubles as a scandal sheet. He prints everything that is true even if it ruins lives. William Demarest, although he makes the big entrance, actually has a minor role as a reporter who has just talked to a bank officer who embezzled a great deal of money, Dan Oliver (Leslie Fenton). Demarest says maybe they should not print the story, that Oliver shows remorse and has actually returned most of the money and plans to return the rest. Mitchell says no go, Oliver is responsible for his actions, and the bank depositors deserve to know the truth.
Later, in a totally separate incident, Mitchell gets pulled over for speeding by motorcycle cop Terry Condon (Victor Jory). Condon will not let Mitchell off the hook for this. Furious, Mitchell returns to his office determined to use his influence to bust Condon off of the force. Mitchell's daughter Joan (Fay Wray) convinces her dad that he should get Condon promoted instead, and write an article about the honesty of the cops that are protecting the city. Dad relents.
Later, Dan Oliver shows up at Mitchell's office ready to shoot Mitchell if he prints the story about his embezzlement. Coming to thank Mitchell, the now promoted Condon shows up and manages to disarm Oliver. Again, Condon is promoted.
As a side plot, Joan and Condon are starting to fall for one another, but things are interrupted when, at Oliver's trial, he is found guilty and escapes, but not before pulling a gun (again) and shooting Condon, who is not seriously wounded.
Oliver's best girl comes to visit Joan and tell her how if it wasn't for her father printing that story, Dan would still be a law abiding citizen, that everything is all of their fault. Joan has pity on the girl, who has lost her job and her apartment, and agrees to help her get a job and a new apartment so she can get on her feet.
But Oliver is still hanging around, watching. He thinks Joan helping his girl is a trick, kills the total stranger that is with her in the apartment they found for his fiancée, after knocking Joan unconscious. Then, like the whining coward he is, he puts the gun in Joan's hand who is then arrested for the murder of a man with whom she had no quarrel. He grabs his fiancée and goes into hiding.
Now the movie gets a bit ridiculous at this point. Joan is put on trial for murdering a suitor who understood he was not first choice, and happy just to be a friend. But for some reason, because they were in an apartment alone together and might be "playing house", there is a shot at conviction, not because Joan looks guilty but because she might be of low morals and therefore a killer??? Hey, who voir dired this jury anyways? Oh well, if I'm going to watch the films of 1935 I'd better be prepared to deal with the values of 1935.
Meanwhile, the officer who arrested Joan but believes her innocent, Condon, resigns from the force and is trying to find Oliver and his girl even though both seemed to disappear off of the face of the earth. Oh, and in case you are wondering, Oliver is just hunky dory with Joan going to the chair in his place. How will this all work out? Watch and find out.
The conclusion this film reaches that I disagree with, based on an impassioned speech on the witness stand by Joan's dad during her trial, it is that he should have left Oliver alone after he found out he was returning the money, that if he did none of this would have happened. Maybe so, but Oliver was a sociopath waiting to hurt someone. Ordinary people that impulsively steal once don't grab a gun and threaten to shoot people, then graduate to actually shooting them, and then graduate to murdering total strangers and framing people for revenge. Too bad, because that was great acting on the witness stand by Walter Connolly, who seldom got a chance at such a big role at Columbia, but was one of their stalwart supporting actors throughout the 1930s. Another plus - it was great to see Victor Jory play a protagonist for once and do a good job of it, playing the role of Condon with great likability.
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