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Counsel for Crime (1937)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 14 October 1937 (USA)
Law school graduate Paul Maddox, adopted son of Senator Robert Maddox, accepts an offer to join the law firm of William "Bill" Mellon, brilliant but unscrupulous criminal attorney. Mrs. ... See full summary »



(story), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »


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Cast overview:
Paul Maddox
Ann McIntyre (as Jacqueline Wells)
Sen. Maddox
Mrs. Maddox
Edwin Mitchell
Asa Stewart
George Evans


Law school graduate Paul Maddox, adopted son of Senator Robert Maddox, accepts an offer to join the law firm of William "Bill" Mellon, brilliant but unscrupulous criminal attorney. Mrs. Maddox is actually Paul's real mother, although neither the Senator nor Paul know it, and Bill Mellon is his father. Yes, it is one of "those" plots. Paul is at first critical of Mellon's sharp practices, but he relents when Ann McItyre convinces him it's all within the law, a fact most law school graduates would have learned in law school. Gambler Georgie Evans comes to Mellon and tells him he has just killed Harrison, another underworld character, and insists it was in self defense. Mellon coaches Evans in how to tell his story to the police, then sends him to police headquarters to give himself up, and then assigns Paul to follow up on the case. While Evans and Paul are on separate routes to the police station, Evans stops by Harrison's and kills him under circumstances corresponding with Mellon's ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Plot Keywords:

law | police | law school | senator | probe | See All (50) »


One Word from Him... And Five Lives Are Doomed! See more »


Crime | Drama | Romance






Release Date:

14 October 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Man Behind the Law  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Excellent script re legal corruption

This "small" Columbia production actually boasts a top notch screenplay regarding corruption among lawyers, as well as containing three excellent performances from the leads.

Otto Kruger is perfectly cast as William Mellon, a suave and successful Manhattan attorney, who takes on young college graduate, Paul Maddox (Douglass Montgomery), as his protege. Unbeknownst to Paul, Mellon is his real father, a fact known only to Mellon and Paul's mother(Nana Bryant). Disgusted by Mellon's corruption, Paul quits and heads a state investigation to sweep lawyers like Mellon from their thrones. When Mellon counterattacks by having a stooge dig up "dirt" on the private lives of his opponents, the mug of course finds out the truth about Paul's birth. In an effort to conceal the information, the stooge is accidentally shot. Mellon goes to prison because he will not divulge the contents of the burned information, thus protecting Paul and his mother. As Mellon observes in the last scene - he has been successful all his life by lying and now that he is in a jam, his ethics won't let him save himself by telling the truth.

This is one of Kruger's best performances - at turns, suave, cold, sympathetic, loving - but with a great intelligence fueling all of his moves. One can only imagine one other actor in the role - William Powell. Douglass Montgomery is quite fine as the wise young lawyer and Nana Bryant is appropriately sympathetic, yet concerned, trying to protect both men she loves.

This one is definitely worth seeing- one of those films that was undeservedly dismissed by the critics. Make an effort to see it.

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