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Mountain Justice (1937)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 24 April 1937 (USA)
Stalwart Appalachian woman finds romance as she struggles to better herself and her people amid prejudice and familial abuse.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Cameron
Ruth Harkins
Doctor John Aloysius Barnard
Evelyn Wayne
Jeff Harkins
Joe King ...
Judge at Ruth's Trial (as Joseph King)
Phoebe Lamb
Robert McWade ...
Lawyer Horace Bamber
Clem Biggers
Edward Pawley ...
Tod Miller
Elisabeth Risdon ...
Meg Harkins (as Elizabeth Risdon)
Bethie Harkins
Judge Crawley at Jeff's Trial
Mr. Matthew Turnbull
Sibyl Harris ...
Mrs. Turnbull


Stalwart Appalachian woman finds romance as she struggles to better herself and her people amid prejudice and familial abuse.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance






Release Date:

24 April 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gesetz der Berge  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Contemporary sources suggest the film was based on a real murder case where a woman killed her own father. See more »


Speaking of the Weather
Music by Harold Arlen
Played by the dance band
See more »

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User Reviews

A forgotten gem from Warner Brothers.
22 June 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Backwoods nurse Josephine Hutchinson and doctor Guy Kibbee want to start a series of clinics to help the poor people who can't afford medical attention. Unfortunately, Hutchinson is saddled with an abusive father (Robert Barrat) who uses his temper to keep his wife (Elisabeth Risdon) and two daughters (Hutchinson, Marcia Mae Jones) in line. With the help of doctor Kibbee and his spinster fiancée (wicked witch Margaret Hamilton), Hutchinson escapes to the city for training, and comes back to fulfill her dream with Kibbee. Unfortunately, her father is unwilling to take her back into his life, and takes his frustrations out on younger daughter Jones. When Jones turns to her older sister for help, an accidental death puts Hutchinson on trial for murder. Her New York lawyer beau George Brent comes to the mountains to help her, leading the way to a gripping conclusion.

I was pleasantly surprised by how gripping this film was from start to finish, filled with humor, romance, and melodrama. Hutchinson, one of the most underrated leading ladies in history, is convincing; beautiful, yet not glamorized. She has audience sympathy from beginning to end. Brent, who would support many of Hollywood's most popular leading ladies of the 30's and 40's (Davis, Stanwyck, Oberon, Francis, etc.), does his job well; it is a shame that in few Hollywood films of this era, he would be the focus of the story. Risdon and Jones as Hutchinson's mother and sister, do well in small, yet important roles. Barrat, as the abusive father, is so hateful, though he gives his character a quiet proudness that influences his shameful violence. It is hard to praise a performance which requires him to be so hateful, but yet, it is filled with realism that any abused child can relate to.

In comic second leads, Guy Kibbee and Margaret Hamilton are hysterical as an engaged couple heading towards the altar for 30 years. (Hamilton, it should be noted, was only 35 when this film was released!) Their wedding scene is absolutely hysterical. For one of the few times in her film career, Hamilton plays a totally sympathetic character, making it hard to believe just two years later, she would enter film immortality as the wicked witch in "The Wizard of Oz". In a small role as Hutchinson's New York chum, Mona Barrie makes the most of her few scenes. "Mountain Justice" is a film regularly seen now on TCM, and makes fascinating viewing.

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