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Dick Van Dyke,
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At a college located in the small town of Haverton, law Professor Roger Bowden's third year Evidence class is about ready to hold its annual final project, a mock grand jury investigation. As usual, they will be investigating the workings of an imaginary town, one that generally has some built-in salacious or exotically criminal element. And as usual, Bowden appoints the class' leading student as the District Attorney, this year being Zachary Davis. And as usual, the DA can appoint his assistant DA, who Zach chooses being his girlfriend, Mary Judson, and his investigative team. But Zach, who may be the brightest law student Bowden's ever taught among an already special class, wants to do things a bit differently. Rather than make believe, he wants to investigate the goings-on in Haverton. This suggestion sits a bit uneasy with most of his classmates including Mary, who were born and raised in Haverton, and whose parents have held positions of authority in town. Conversely, Zach is an ... Written by
"Handle with Care" from 1958 is a low-budget second feature that starts Dean Jones and Thomas Mitchell. Jones plays a Zachary Mitchell, a law student who is to be the DA in a mock trial. He argues for trying a real case and finding one in the town. After going through town records and rejecting several ideas, he finds one that is very interesting: it seems the mayor, who in those days the tax collector, embezzled tax money in the early '30s. What he took in and what he deposited are two different things, as he deposited less than he wrote out receipts for.
The other students, who are from the area unlike Zachary and admire the mayor, are against this being tried as a case, and the townspeople basically turn against him. He loses his drugstore job. Nevertheless, stubborn, intelligent, and somewhat angry, he perseveres. The "trial" doesn't go as planned.
Thomas Mitchell does a beautiful job as the mayor, and there are other excellent character actors in the film: Anne Seymour, Walter Abel, and Burt Douglas. John Smith, who starred in TV western Laramie, plays Zachary's good friend.
This is a good movie, with an earnest performance by Jones, who went on to do films for Disney, starred in the TV series Hennessy, later starred as the original Bobby in the musical Company on Broadway, and then became born-again and dedicated his life to mostly performances in Christian-based productions, including a one-man show, St. John in Exile.
Well worth seeing, and the footage of '30s farms and people affected by drought is sobering, to say the least.
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