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By the late 19C, Britain's Bloody Code of zero tolerance - in which thousands of men, women and children were hung for trivial crimes - had ended but was still within living memory. Sir Edward Marshall Hall (note no hyphen), nicknamed "The Great Defender", rose to become the greatest criminal barrister (trial lawyer) that England has yet seen. This series attempts to unpack the grief, genius and guilt that drove him. Jonathon Hyde is outstanding as the passionate Marshall Hall as he fights seemingly non-winnable cases with stunning and audacious oratory. Hall's closing address in the Marie Hermann case episode was so moving it brought me to tears. What another reviewer has called "pretentious" is simply the style of BBC period melodramas. This series is a gem and deserves to be far more widely known. Required watching for all criminal lawyers. Please get it on Netflix streaming.
Written by Richard Cooper, this competently made, albeit pretentious Edwardian court-room drama series, from the late 1980's, charts eight true-life cases taken by one of Britain's most successful and show-man-like barristers : Edward Marshall-Hall. Commencing with Marshall-Hall's defence of a German prostitute, charged with the murder of an elderly pimp, the series shows, via this instance, the proficient Hyde ("Jumanji" / "Titanic" / "The Mummy") replicating the dramatic court-room hyperbole, social magnetism and integrity, that enthralled the public, arguably via the then burgeoning popular press - and made the barrister a celebrity. With eyes glazed and arms waving, Hyde rants, in said episode, "I almost dare you to find a guilty verdict". In a career, that spanned to the 1920's, for which the barrister used early forensic evidence, Marshall-Hall accepted briefs for an ensemble of clients (that included aristocratic homosexuals, suspected spies and nearly Crippen), therefore allowing for a range, of mainly unknown actors - including the then ill-famed David Rintoul and Peter Capaldi - to contribute. Yet, this seemingly polished BBC production, lacks the character-driven intensity of its' counterpart - Jeremy Brett's 'Sherlock Holmes' series - and relies on its' status as a costume drama and systemic 'realism', as illustrated by the usage of unknown actors - leaving the show seeming contrived.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Shadow of the Noose is directed by Sebastian Graham Jones and Matthew
Robinson, is based on the real life cases of Edward Marshall Hall and
stars Jonathan Hyde and Michael Feast. Guest stars include David
Rintoul, Sian Phillips and David Bradley.
This miniseries from 1989 is based on the real life British defence lawyer Edward Marshall Hall who was known as the great defender. He was involved in many famous trials of the day including The Camden Town Murder and he came very close to defending Dr Crippen.
Over the series we see Marshall Hall(Jonathan Hyde)accepting various cases and defending his clients in court. Hyde who has to be one of the most underrated actors in British history gives one of his greatest performances in this. He has some very detailed speeches to deliver and he does so expertly. Hyde appears very dignified in his bearing and throws himself into the role with great conviction and is very believable as the defender of the accused. Hyde has strong support from Michael Feast as Hall's clerk Edgar Bowker.
There is great attention to period detail in this and it's interesting to see what the legal system was like back in the 1800's. I was lucky enough to have found this series on YouTube and I think it's such a shame this hasn't been repeated on TV. It doesn't appear to be on DVD either,it's such a brilliant series and should be more widely known.
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