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After County Attorney Dave Connors helps Julia Norman with her shiftless father, Jefferson Norman, she leaves Jericho, Kansas to college to study for a law degree.A few years later, Algeria Wedge, the new bride of Dave's best friend, Tucker Wedge, makes overtures and plays for Dave, much to the displeasure of Dave's hard-drinking wife Belle. Angered by Dave's rebuffs, Algeria induces the state political boss to back Tucker for a Congress race against Dave. Meanwhile, Julia has returned to Jericho, with her law degree, and she and Dave fall in love. But when Dave announces he won't run for Congress, she feels she is the reason and she takes a job in Kansas City. Tucker wins the election and he and Algeria go to Washington. Later, Tucker announces a run for the Senate and Dave decides to run against him. When Marjorie Ransome kills a drunk in self-defense, Julia returns to Jericho to work with Dave, now in private practice,on Marjorie's defense. The still-resentful Algeria moves to kill... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Frustrated love, ambition, politics and manslaughter stirred up in an early 1900s pot
"The Walls of Jericho" gets high marks from me. This is in the best Hollywood tradition of story-telling, a first-class Twentieth Century-Fox production. The story is sturdy melodrama set around 1905-1910, lifted by a meticulous recreation of the time and place and terrific acting. Director John M. Stahl extracted amazing performances from a cast of pros. Stahl had produced and directed numerous fine films since 1914. He was to die in 1950.
Cornell Wilde plays a lawyer in a Kansas town who is down to earth and seems headed for Congress, but he has a handicap in an alcoholic wife, Ann Dvorak. Anne Baxter, stuck on Wilde, leaves town as a teen and will return later as a lawyer. Her love for him and his for her will have matured, but sensing that only tragic results can pursue them if they have an affair, Baxter leaves town again. At the outset of the story, Kirk Douglas, a newsman and an old friend of Wilde, returns to town with his new wife, Linda Darnell. She takes an overly friendly liking to Wilde, who doesn't respond to her seduction. In turn she plots to turn Kirk against Wilde and have her man become Congressman. The town bully is Barton Maclane. Henry Hull and Marjorie Rambeau appear briefly in support. Art Baker has a substantial role as a prosecutor during a manslaughter trial. Colleen Townsend is an ingenue. Frank Ferguson is her father.
Stir this cast up, add some further ingredients, and you have the kind of story you find in novels, and co-writing the screenplay with Lamar Trotti was novelist Paul Wellman, who wrote several novels made into westerns, such as "Jubal" and "The Iron Mistress". Trotti was a major Fox writer (movies like "The Razor's Edge", "In Old Chicago", "The Ox-Bow Incident").
Wilde is the kind of natural actor who on the surface seems always to be himself, but who becomes his characters almost effortlessly. But looking across his career, he played a wide variety of characters. Darnell is a phenomenon in any bad girl role; she spices up the show. Dvorak, never the biggest of Hollywood names because of studio conflicts, again shows that she could compete with the best of them. Anne Baxter is outstanding in a very difficult role to put across. In the hands of a lesser actress, her part could have been a disaster because of the writing's moral and sentimental links, but Baxter gives it the seriousness and realism to bring it off.
Recommended as a fine Hollywood period melodrama.
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