Every now and then a real long shot pays off so to speak with B films. You'll get one that's really good with some fine performances and a great script from a cast without any really big name players. Such a film is Attorney For The Defense.
Edmund Lowe is an ambitious prosecutor who after he sends an innocent Dwight Frye to the electric chair turns defense attorney. He also helps to provide for the widow and son of Frye, Dorothy Peterson and Douglas Haig. Fast forward several years and Lowe's now in the big chips and he's given girl friend Evelyn Brent the heave ho because she's been two timing him with crook Bradley Page.
But Page is now facing some real jail time with evidence that Lowe's gathered as head of a citizen's committee. In he sends Evelyn Brent to work her charms on Lowe and if not on him on Donald Dillaway who is the now grown son of Dwight Frye. But Brent's got an agenda all her own.
Attorney For The Defense suffers from some sloppy editing so you have to jump a little to make the plot connections. This was treated I'm sure as an assembly line product from Columbia Pictures so no great care was given it. But the performances here are really good, this would have been given much better care at Warner Brothers or MGM at the time.
Evelyn Brent is one two timing woman, we wouldn't see a piece of work like her until Jane Greer in Out Of The Past. She steals the film in every scene she's in. Constance Cummings is also in Attorney For The Defense as Lowe's girl Friday. She's written a bit too goody goody just to contrast Brent.
Lowe's citizen's committee reminded the movie going public at the time of the committee headed by Samuel Seabury in New York investigating corruption there. In fact when Lowe gets in a jackpot of his own, Cummings reaches out to big-shot defense attorney Joe Steiner (Max Steuer) played by Eddie Kane.
Kane won't do it without some big bucks so Lowe decides to challenge the adage about a fool for a client. He does one amazing job as his own counsel. It's a courtroom scene any player would sell his soul to do.
Sad that Attorney For The Defense was done at a poverty row outfit like Columbia was at the time. Done at Warner Brothers this would have been a classic. It's still pretty good.
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