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Prominent attorney Brad Mason takes on the defense of Rudi Walchek, a young hit-man hoodlum accused of murder. Convinced of the youthful thug's innocence, Mason get him acquitted. Later, he learns from the murder-victim's father that Walchek is a low-level member of a protection-racket gang and was undoubtedly guilty. Mason is anxious to get the gang-leader, but when he discovers it is the eminently respected head of the city's Crime Commission, he feels that a conviction in a court-of-law would be impossible. In a rage, he kills the man, but all evidence, including the murder weapon points to Walchek. When the latter is again brought to trial, Mason, although he senses a higher justice is at work, feels he must defend him with the best of his ability. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Though there are a few flaws in the creation of this film they are glossed over by the powerful performances in The Unknown Man, particularly by it's star Walter Pidgeon.
Pidgeon plays a top attorney, a kind of Louis D. Brandeis who takes great pride in loving the law for its own sake. I've met a couple of attorneys like this in my life and they do exist. Some even wind up on the Supreme Court, like Brandeis.
Pidgeon is like Brandeis, a lawyer who specializes in civil practice. He's both respected and successful. When Philip Ober comes to him and asks Pidgeon to take on a criminal case to save an innocent man's life, Pidgeon agrees.
His client is young Keefe Brasselle arrested in the murder of a young locksmith. Pidgeon gets him off. But later we find out he did the deed and furthermore Brasselle is a young punk who extorts money for organized crime.
That sets in motion a chain of events which Pidgeon pushes that in the end bring about a certain cosmic justice which corrects the mistake that man's justice made. I think if Louis Brandeis had gotten himself involved in a cosmic jackpot the way Pidgeon does it would come out the same.
There are also some nice performances by wife Ann Harding, District Attorney Barry Sullivan who narrates the film in flashback, Eduard Franz the head of the Crime Commission, Lewis Stone as (what else) the Judge, and the original victim's father Konstantin Shayne. There are indeed more than one victim before things are righted.
Walter Pidgeon is the type of man they DON'T make lawyer jokes about, they give them awards. Nicely cast and nicely done film.
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