Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
After four films as Steve Trent, and before four entries as Ellery Queen (all at Columbia), Ralph Bellamy here portrays John Vickery, an alcoholic attorney who finds redemption in a falsely accused girl, Flo Russell (Marguerite Churchill), that he'd helped escape the police months earlier. Having fallen in love with the stranger, she is now in a position to help him overcome his demons and continue his law practice. Her employer, Red McLarnen (John Gallaudet), is a reformed gangster whose former partner, Mike Magellon (Marc Lawrence), blackmails him into a new kidnapping plot, foiled with Vickery's assistance. Magellon manages a narrow escape, and succeeds in vengefully shooting Red, leaving Flo to take the rap. Vickery defends her in court, but is unable to prevent a guilty verdict based on perjured testimony from a confederate of Magellon's. At a mere 57 minutes, the film is never boring, with Bellamy again proving a solid lead in the whodunit mystery category. Small roles go to Ralph Byrd, as a Department of Justice guard, John Hamilton as the Department Chief, and Elisabeth Risdon as a phony fortune teller who sets up Magellon's Final Hour. Marguerite Churchill was busy in 1936, having already shot "The Walking Dead," with Boris Karloff and Ricardo Cortez, and "Dracula's Daughter," with Gloria Holden and Edward Van Sloan.
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