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This is a truly original story. Granted, it was done in 1938, but I haven't seen anything quite like it since. That's unusual for Hollywood.
Warren Williams is an obsessed District Attorney who is incapable of any human feeling toward the people he prosecutes. And then a case comes along. A refined, educated, teacher kills his wife in a moment of mad jealousy. Warren has no mercy for him. Coaxes him into a confession with the ultimate goal of executing him.
The gimmick in this story is that, during the trial, he realizes that he is living a parallel life. He has neglected his own wife and come to believe that she is having an affair. After following her to a friends house, he finds himself with a pistol in his hand - a perfect parallel to the case he is trying. It changes his life.
Warren Williams has a tendency to overact, but to hear him bellow in the courtroom, and cackle with glee when he pulls one over on his adversaries, is not to be missed. There is one caution. Is it possible to be too sophisticated? All the other actors are unremarkable, with the exception of Lillian Yarbo who plays the maid. Her lines and expressions are priceless.
If, like me, you long for the days when Hollywood took the time to actually write a coherent script. A time when dialogue really meant something. A time when you second guessed the story and paid attention to the actors - instead of the special effects, take time out for this one. If you can find it.
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