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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>
MGM made some excellent film noir. People are surprised but it turned out some excellent and very dark ones, notably "The People Against O'Hara." This bears certain plot similarities to that Spencer Tracy movie. However, it is unfortunately not a very good MGM noir.
Walter Pigeon, not one of my favorite actors, turns in a decent performance. Ann Harding, who could be exasperatingly grand in her 1930s RKO starring vehicles, has a small part as his wife. She's fine, though.
Keefe Brasselle as the young hotshot Pigeon defends is not up to the task. He doesn't ring remotely true as a sleazy kid on the take for whatever he can get and loving what he does get.
Barry Sullivan is one of the staples of the best of noir, however, and he is in his usual fine form as the district attorney who goes up against Pigeon in court. The movie, which seems to have needed it, has a voice-over narration by Sullivan. (I say it may have needed it because he speaks right over characters we see moving their mouths and acting out scenes.) It's rather predictable. Pigeon's Biblical recitation is interesting and casts the movie in a light that suggests it could have been much better than it is.
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