This film version of the popular radio and later television series stars Adolph Menjou in the title role as the incorruptible District Attorney of an unnamed city. Menjou's famous waxed mustache proved handy in the role as it suggested that other mustached DA who ran for president, Thomas E. Dewey.
The plot finds Menjou hiring Dennis O'Keefe after he overhears him quitting a case where he found the evidence bogus. That kind of integrity impresses Menjou and he puts him to work.
But O'Keefe has a weakness and it's for Marguerite Chapman one cold hearted minx if there ever was one. She skirted on a murder accomplice charge already and she's in the pay of construction tycoon George Coulouris. When O'Keefe begins investigating Coulouris, she's right there to tip him to every move.
Menjou busts them up, but O'Keefe takes it the wrong way and goes over to the dark side. It's only then we see just how evil Chapman is and she's one of the most evil women ever seen on the big screen this side of Jane Greer in Out Of The Past.
Michael O'Shea as Menjou's investigator and Jeff Donnell as the DA's secretary/receptionist also contribute some noteworthy characterizations as does Steven Geray who was a regular in these Columbia noir type films.
The image of Menjou as Dewey is reinforced in the film by the fact that he tells O'Keefe to be ready to work long and desultory hours in obtaining convictions. That is exactly what Dewey did to his staff, he drove himself just as hard. Curiously enough though the DA's name on the radio series is unmentioned, here his last name is Warren and another guy who was at one time the District Attorney of Alameda County which is Oakland in California was Governor of California when Mr. District Attorney came out. He would run with Dewey for Vice President in 1948 and later became one of our greatest Chief Justices, meaning of course Earl Warren.
Though Menjou and O'Keefe are fine, this film belongs to Marguerite Chapman in what was her career role in her screen career. Not much in the way of production, but a solid plot and characterization make Mr. District Attorney a good noir feature.
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