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Small town lawyer, Harmon Cobb, defends a Nazi prisoner of war against murder charges. Set during World War II, Cobb has to contend with the difficulties of defending the devil when the town's only doctor (Barnard Hughes) dies while at "Camp Bremen" in the fictitious town of Bremen, Colorado. Written by
Not great but a good tvm that is quite interesting and enjoyable despite being predictable and not deep enough
Harmon Cobb is a small town lawyer more at home in the local restaurant than he is in the courts. In the years after the war, Cobb's town is home to Camp Brennan a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers. Doc Hansen is one of the few local people who gets into the camp and, although he can't tell anyone about it, something appears to have him shaken up. After seeing him drunk late at night, Cobb wakes the next day to learn Doc has been murdered in the camp and that it appears a clear-cut case of murder by one of the senior German prisoners Geiger. Forced to act as Geiger's defence by Judge Bell, Cobb faces the wrath of the townsfolk as he tries to do his best with a difficult case.
A few weeks ago I watched the tvm Incident in a Small Town and I must admit that I was entirely unimpressed by it in fact I thought it was poor. I found out after watching this film that it was one of a series of films involving the character of small town lawyer Harmon Cobb and I was surprised that, if this was the quality of the series, that more than one had been made. So when I saw this film in the schedules I decided to give it a try and see what justified a couple of films. Here we actually have a reasonably good story that deals with interesting conflicting emotions in the characters while a pretty good courtroom drama is delivered without too much fuss. Of course being a TVM it isn't that good but it does do the job. I would have liked the film to get to grips with the feelings of the characters a bit better, rather than just showing the town turn against Cobb in the obvious way they did or having to use a clumsy plot device to show how dedicated he is to truth and justice for all.
However it did do enough to make it interesting and provide more than the rather obvious main narrative to hold the film together. Matthau seems happier here than he did in the sequel I saw there he just seemed bored with the character and the story. Here he has something to work with and, although it is essentially the same sort of character he usually plays, he is still interesting. The support are reasonably good without ever threatening him. Firth is solid as Geiger, Morgan is familiar as the judge and the rest fill in around the edges without anyone really giving a bad performance.
Overall this is an OK tvm that has an OK courtroom drama at its core while also doing enough with other ideas to be interesting. It isn't great but it is quite good if you are watching daytime TV in an undemanding mood. Matthau dominates it and makes it better than it probably deserved to be but generally it does all hang together well enough to be worth a look.
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