|Index||6 reviews in total|
"Mr. District Attorney" is a 1947 film starring Dennis O'Keefe, Michael
O'Shea, Marguerite Chapman and Adolphe Menjou. It has a solid B cast
that includes Jeff Donnell and George Coulouris. O'Keefe plays Steve
Bennett, a defense attorney who is offered a job in the DA's office by
Craig Warren (Menjou) and accepts. Unfortunately he's being played by
the Chapman character, Marcia Manning, who's trying to get information
from him that will help the case of her boyfriend, James Randolph
(Coulouris). By listening in on a phone conversation, she finds out
about a witness, who suddenly disappears.
Warren suspects Manning, who has a police record, so he sends Steve to Italy to find a witness and convinces Marcia to get out of his life. She does so, by marrying Randolph. When Steve returns and finds his girlfriend married, he blames Warren and quits the DA's office, making him ripe for exploitation by Randolph yet again.
This is an okay film, brightened by the performance of Michael O'Shea as an investigator who works in the DA's office. Menjou is very good as the DA. O'Keefe is a likable and attractive actor who doesn't register much here. Chapman is effective. I mainly know who she is from the '80s, where she was selling her own memorabilia and always had an ad in "Hollywood Studio Magazine." The movie felt a little dragged out.
I was expecting a bland b-movie but Columbia delivered a cracking good
film noir in "Mr. District Attorney" (1947).
The cask of pros sparkles in a twisty and fast-moving story. Look who is in this: Dennis O'Keefe as an honest assistant d.a., Adolphe Menjou as his fast-talking and thinking boss, Marguerite Chapman as a femme fatale whom O'Keefe cannot resist, George Coulouris as a businessman who employs tough tactics and hoods like John Kellogg, Steven Geray as his scheming accountant. Michael O'Shea provides light-hearted support, but nothing that disturbs the picture's serious mood. Ralph Morgan puts in a brief appearance too.
The attractive Chapman has a questionable past but when Menjou tries to shield O'Keefe from her, the attempt backfires. He cannot resist her (and she him) even after she marries Coulouris.
This fine movie came packaged in Vol. 8 of VCI's forgotten noir series. The print is excellent.
I'll add that Chapman is a knockout. She sports long dark hair and a 5' 7'' physique. A real looker who attracted many men in Hollywood.
I admit to being an absolute sucker for many of these beautiful ladies that Hollywood recruited, and they do not have to take off their clothes on the screen for anyone with eyes to appreciate their beauty. I can understand O'Keefe's infatuation for her in this movie, even after he knows she's a murderess. And she knows she has him hooked too. She makes this movie, adding considerable spice to it. Without her, it's a bunch of dull men running around, but she energizes them all!!
(There are Spoilers) Quiting his high powered law firm by rejecting a
case where he felt his client was guilty out of job attorney Steve
Bennett, Dennis O'Keefe, catches the eye of the city's District
Attorney Craig Warren, Adolphe Menjou, who hires him as his assistant
On Steve's first assignment involving power-broker James Randolph's, George Coulouris, real-estate & construction firm-Randolph & Longfield-he meets Randolph's private secretary Marcia Manning, Margerite Chapman, and it's love at first sight. Steve doesn't realize it but Marcia is a tough dame who knows what she want's and how to get it. What Marcia want's from Steve is what evidence the D.A's office has on her boss and secret lover James Randolph.
D.A Warren knows full well Marcia's background back in Kansas City where she was involved in a suspicious car accident, that she was acquitted of, were an important state witness was run down and killed. Not wanting to openly interfere in his assistants, Steve Bennet, love life Warren gets him out of the country to extradite a local hood, in Italy, so in time the big romance will cool off.
With Steve back in town, after some three weeks in sunny Italy, he finds out to his shock and surprise that his honey and the girl that he left behind Marcia had married her boss James Randolph while he was away! Holding his boss D.A Warren responsible from his break up with Marica Steve quits his job and eventually end up working as Randolph's attorney!
Steve soon finds out that Randolph is dirty and working with the mob as a front-man for mobster and nightclub owner Berotti, Steven Geray. The two hoods, Randolph & Berotti, are trying to get the city counsel to pass a bill to build a superhighway straight through the heart of the city's Westgate District.
Things start to get ugly with the so-called suicide of Randolph's legal expert Ed Jamison, Ralph Morgan, who was, in an effort to save his neck, ready to talk to the D.A's office to strike up a deal with D.A Warren. Meanwhile back in the Westgate District Berotti and Randolph's hoods shake down the merchants by forcing them to sell out to Randolph's firm. By buying up all the real-estate in Westgate Randolph and his silent partner Berotti will make millions when the superhighway is finally built!
It takes a while for the confused and love-sick Steve Bennet to get his head screwed back on in realizing that Marcia has absolutely no use for him other then have Steve used as a accessory to crime. It turns out that Steve's only reason in working for Randolph is to throw off the D.A's investigation of Randolph and Berotti criminal connections. By the time Steve realizes what a sucker he was it's almost too late from him to get out of the mess that he put himself into.
***SPOILER ALERT***In a desperate attempt to make up for what he did in helping the mob and their, or is it the other way around, stooge James Randolph Steve confronts Randolph at his office and ends up, in self-defense, shooting him dead. With a murder rap now hanging over his head Steve has only one choice left and that's to come clean! But with Marcia manipulating, from behind the scenes, him whatever evidence that can exonerate Steve in Randolph's murder has been destroyed! Or has it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A beautiful blonde is brutally murdered in her bed, allegedly by her
estranged husband who has just gotten out of prison and is out seeking
revenge. Another woman's picture (that of Marguerite Chapman) is
planted on the front page of the newspaper, and this leads to a whole
series of mob-related incidents and more murders. Chapman, it seems,
was acquitted in the death of a mobster in a car accident by ruling of
accidental death, but her mug shot was accidentally utilized instead of
the initial murder victim's. While the matter of who killed the
beautiful blonde is pretty much overlooked, what occurs afterwords is
intriguing as Chapman ends up becoming one of the great film noir femme
fatals, much like Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity", Ann Savage in
"Detour", Jean Gilles in "Decoy" and Jane Greer in "Out of the Past",
with more up her sleeve rather than winning over the love of assistant
D.A. Dennis O'Keefe while she is married to racketeer George Coulouris.
Adolph Menjou is suave as the head D.A. who is aware that there's more to Chapman than meets the human male eye. He warns O'Keefe about her which leads to O'Keefe's resignation. When Chapman is brought in on another charge, O'Keefe becomes her council, causing suspicion for Menjou who spots the two of them having more than just a client/lawyer meeting in a very hot night spot. More murders follow which makes Menjou very suspicious and this leads to several thrilling confrontations with various suspects and a conclusion that you may see coming but won't be disappointed by. Jeff Donnell is an amusing "Girl Friday" as Menjou's secretary while Steven Geray is a great supporting villain. This didn't lead to a series of films with O'Keefe and Menjou, but did lead to a T.V. series that ran briefly in the 1950's.
A young assistant DA gets mixed up with an unscrupulous woman and her
criminally connected husband.
On the whole, the movie is a rather pleasant surprise, thanks to a lively cast and an edgy script. From the unpromising title, I expected a replay of the radio series that was nothing special. Instead, however, the movie plays more like a 40's noir than a legal documentary.
The story's crux revolves around Marcia's (Chapman) ruthless manipulations, and Chapman is excellent as the designing spider woman. As a result of the clever script and adept acting, it's hard to detect Marcia's true intentions. That leaves us in the same position as her paramour, the befuddled Steve (O'Keefe). But, Steve's none too ethical himself since he hires out to crooked businessman Randolph (Coulouris), after leaving the DA's office. Together, Marcia and Steve make a good tarnished pair, well suited to noir.
It's a dynamic Adolph Menjou as the truculent DA, however, who makes the film work. Thanks to actor Menjou, we understand why Steve has a love-hate relationship with his boss. As a result, Steve's basic dilemma revolves around which he will followthe DA and his profession or Marcia and her allure. Fortunately, if things get too heavy, the lively Harrington (O'Shea) is around with his well-scripted quips.
Despite its assets, the film's far from a classic, but does remain a lively little programmer thanks to a large dose of Hollywood professionalism.
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.
|Ratings||External reviews||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|