James Curtayne has retired from law but he returns to defend John O'Hara on a murder charge. Curtayne's drinking and rustiness result in O'Hara's being found guilty, but Curtayne makes further efforts to prove him innocent. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Worth seeing for star Tracy, director of photography Alton
It's a shame this movie never lives up to the dark promise of its opening images: Night in a run-down quarter of the city; an all-night coffee shop, like Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks"; an old Swedish salt stumbling around. In deep background, a door opens, flooding a stairway with light. Then, shots ring out. What it's all about is a young man framed for a murder, whose impoverished parents coax "retired" defense attorney Spencer Tracy to exonerate him; Tracy plays half Clarence Darrow and half gumshoe. Despite the obligatory falling-off-the-wagon scene (where he succumbs to ethical temptation) it's a solid job. The noir influence goes beyond the camerawork; the ending is darker than you might be led to expect.
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