young lawyer (Richard Chamberlain) defends a young rebel (nick adams) accused of murder.
This is the infamous film for which Nick Adams was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar owing to his spending a great deal of his own money and time campaigning. He had promised best friend, actor Robert Conrad, that he was going to be the first TV actor to get a nomination and he did, after sparing no effort to browbeat Academy members. According to Hollywood legend, he even invited a bunch to his home for a big party and then fell asleep just as they arrived. Also, he was supposedly dumbfounded when Melvyn Douglas received the award for his old cowboy in Hud. Adams is okay, nothing more, in this film - he actually should have campaigned for another film he did that year, The Hook with Kirk Douglas, because that was his best role ever in a film. Here, he wears a black leather jacket and does a James Dean routine (they were in Rebel Without a Cause together, Dean with the lead, Adams with one line) as a misunderstood loner he gets accused of murder. His love interest, a wild child, is played by Joey Heatherton, who had been depressed ever since her father, TV's Merry Mailman, refused to let her play the title role in Lolita - which is pretty much what she does here, only doing so after Tuesday Weld passed up the part in this film. Richard Chamberlain, in his bland leading man days before he learned to act by doing Hamlet in London, is the defense lawyer, Joan Blackman his classy girlfriend, and the great Claude Raines provides the real reason for watching as an older lawyer. Watchable but routine, and not very different from any halfway decent TV lawyer show of the time except that it runs twice as long.
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