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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
It plays like a Playhouse 90 tv drama: relatively short on 82 minutes, black and white, with economy script and production values.
Nothing to attract much attention here, except when one notices the name of Thomas Mitchell in the cast. Seldom did this legendary character actor appear in something that wasn't worth watching.
In this case, he's Williston, Mayor of a small town, being "investigated" by a collegiate mock court, undergoing their final exams. He willingly cooperates, until the court's "D.A." begins to uncover something unbalanced in tax books back in '32 and '33.
How far to go in pursuing this investigation of a now-beloved, long-term Mayor? It's Dean Jones, cast in the "D.A." role of Zach Davis, who must decide.
The whole town to a fault loves the Mayor and turns against Zach, when word about the investigation leaks out. It's Zach who must choose to go "all the way" or not.
A constantly interesting story, with some nice character and plot turns transpire. Also the philosophical question of whether unyielding factual truth must be pursued and exposed, no matter what the circumstances. Is there only one right and one wrong, or are there some shades of gray?
Jones is fine as the idealistic student lawyer, Walter Abel is strong as Jones' law teacher, Prof. Bowdin, and Mitchell is wonderful, as always, as Mayor Williston.
How nice to have this little mid-50s drama (made by MGM, probably on its B-budget backlot) preserved and shown on the AMC channel. I'd say it accurately represents the quality of many such small-budget productions of that period, which is to say, it's nicely scripted, well acted, and thought provoking.
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