The story of a murder trial where a Mexican boy is accused of the death of a Caucasian girl. The two-faced attorney (Arthur Kennedy) who takes the boy's case is only interested in defending... See full summary »
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Claude Jarman Jr.
The story of a murder trial where a Mexican boy is accused of the death of a Caucasian girl. The two-faced attorney (Arthur Kennedy) who takes the boy's case is only interested in defending him so he can exploit his Communist-backed organization for their own underhanded purposes. He and his organization bring in an idealistic law professor (Glenn Ford) who agrees to represent the boy in court. Written by
After ordering David to put Angel on the stand following their argument in his office, Barney walks out, leaving Abbe and David alone. Abbe turns to David and says, "Oh, Barney, there's a new world coming", when she certainly meant to say "David". See more »
[Blake and Castle are discussing the fund-raising for Angel Chavez's defense fund]
Look, it's not only the way you are raising the money, it's the people that are raising it.The All Peoples Party. Barney, half of them are a bunch of Communists, you know that!
Bernard 'Barney' Castle:
I'd say sixty percent, and some of the others are cheating the Party out if its dues.
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An hour and a quarter into Trial, the jury is finally impanelled. Ostensibly a legal drama, the movie casts wide its net, dragging in multi-hued racism, anti-Communism and fellow-travelers, corruption, vigilantism and media justice.
That venerable academy State University won't renew law prof Glenn Ford's contract because he lacks courtroom experience. He signs up with slick lawyer Arthur Kennedy ("Law's a business like any other"), who promptly makes him point man in a high-visibility trial. A Mexican boy has been charged with murder of an underage Anglo girl in a case of statutory rape. Town racists whip up a lynch mob; meanwhile, Kennedy flits across the country to milk cash from a leftist rally for the boy. But, confident that Ford will blow the defense, he's only interested in providing a profitable martyr for the "cause."
Ford faces a thankless task in the courtroom -- and the movie. Always the strong, stoic sufferer, he here plays a dupe, kept in the background, his face curdled into a mask of disdain. (Helpmate Dorothy McGuire, as Kennedy's maverick Girl Friday, shows more passion and intelligence.) His adversary is D.A. John Hodiak, so between them the soggy scenes before the bench fizzle out. Ford's final gallop to the rescue comes too late to neutralize the cynical torpor; the young Mexican proves as much of a pawn in the hands of the moviemakers as in the manipulative attorneys' and officials'.
Trial raises more provocative and timely issues than it can begin to explore, let alone resolve. It's a pity, because those issues still smoulder today, in the America of Court TV spectacles and an ideologically embalmed judiciary.
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