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When Jo Morris' marriage turned sour and heartless, she found sympathy and companionship with widower Larry Ellis. After Jo's husband is accidentally killed in a struggle over a gun with Larry, the adulterous couple find themselves on trial for their lives, with their lawyers fighting the pair's reluctance to turn against each other. Written by
courtroom drama written and directed by Clifford Odets
Playwright Clifford Odets wrote and directed the absorbing courtroom drama, "The Story on Page One," starring Rita Hayworth, Tony Franciosa, Gig Young and Mildred Dunnock. Lovers Larry Ellis and Josephine Brown (Hayworth and Young) are accused of killing her sometimes violent and verbally abusive husband (Alfred Ryder). Josephine's mother (Katherine Squire) begs the down and out Harvard law school grad Victor Santini (Franciosa) to take the case. Josephine insists to Victor that the killing was an accident.
You'll never see a movie with such long scenes again. It's a shame, because they were very absorbing, with Franciosa really ratcheting up the fireworks. This is especially true in his cross-examination of Ellis' mother (Dunnock).
As good as the courtroom part of the film is, there are a few problems with the rest of the script. There isn't enough character fleshing out of Franciosa's character - seemingly within minutes, he goes from a broke lawyer with a hangover to this handsome, confident, sharp lawyer in a suit. We learn precious little about Young's character either, for instance, why is he still a mama's boy in his thirties. Strangely we know most about two supporting characters, Ellis' mother and Josephine's husband. Franciosa, Dunnock, Ryder and the well-known drama coach Sanford Meisner, as the prosecuting attorney, hand in the best performances.
Rita Hayworth actually began to show signs of Alzheimer's only a few years after this film and suffered from it for the next 25 years. People who knew her say she was much like the character of Josephine - quiet, shy, insecure and sweet. The sex goddess is gone; in her place is a good-looking woman wearing a frumpy house dress, her hair worn off of her face. Hayworth doesn't exhibit much personality in this, but then, probably the unhappy Josephine wouldn't have either.
One other problem with the script is the killing itself. If in fact Josephine's husband's hand never came off of the revolver, why wouldn't a fingerprint test show that Ellis never touched it? Actually the evidence of the gun is never mentioned, so maybe Josephine got rid of the gun. Also, the wild shot fired while the men were fighting landed somewhere in the kitchen and would at least have helped Ellis' story a little. That isn't mentioned either.
Nonetheless, the courtroom segments make for great drama. Recommended.
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