Midnight Court (1937) Poster

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6/10
The Always Dependables...
xerses1319 April 2011
Warner Brothers (WB) as a 'Factory Studio' had on hand a stock company of professionals too fill in any acting need. Sometimes they were career supporting actors, others may have been former 'Stars' but no longer a top tier attraction.

MIDNIGHT COURT (1937) welds two (2) of these for the leads in this picture, Ann Dvorak and John Litel. The rest of the cast filled out by the current 'Dependables'. The story is one of redemption, through deeds and love. District Attorney Victor Shanley (Litel) is framed, disgraced and falls from the public grace, turning to Mr. Booze and self pity losing the love of Carey O'Neill (Dvorak). Attorney Shanley tries to get back what he lost by throwing his skills toward the benefit of getting Gangsters off the legal hook. Garnering both their praise and material benefits. Later the murder of his protégé changes his views. The Gangsters are brought too justice and he wins the hand of Carey. A solid, entertaining Studio System 'B' Film.

I have never seen John Litel phone in a role. He shows the same discipline as a actor, that he did in his service in WWI earning him two (2) decorations. His career was long and distinguished, showing his mettle also on Stage and later T.V.

Ann Dvorak, attractive, slim, sexy, whose career did not last as long. Starting out as a 'Star' her relations with the Studio Heads did not endear her too them, so by the late 1930s' she had drifted down to 'B' Pictures. Finally retiring in 1951 to private life. Dieing relatively young at the age of 68 (1911>1979).
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6/10
Could have been so much better
howardeisman11 October 2012
This plot of a mob lawyer redeeming himself for a woman has been done many times, both before and after this effort. I am not bothered that the plot is so predictable, but that it is handled in so perfunctory a way. The movie ambles along at first. We do not see star Ann Dvorak-the star- for quite a while. Where is it going?

When it does get going, it accelerates quickly. Complete plot issues and character development are lost as events speed up faster and faster.Dvorak could be quite a charismatic performer. However, in this movie, she has few lines, and none of the lines have any bite. She ambles along with her Mona Lisa smile while John Litel shows a proportionately high level of energy. The gangsters are funny, but as people die at their hands,it is hard to laugh.

Meant as a B quickie, it does the job-but too well. There is enough talent here to have made a much more substantial picture
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5/10
Warner's Answer to Spencer Tracy
boblipton19 April 2011
John Litel lends his strong presence to this Warners B as a lawyer who decides to go into defending criminals in order to make a lot of money and win back ex-wife Ann Dvorak and save a bunch of teenagers he met at night court being sentenced for a bender -- thus the title.

Litel is excellent, as you might expect, but this attempt to squash together a bunch of Warners' socially aware crime pictures leaves far too much ground to be covered in 63 minutes, especially when director MacDonald doesn't have everyone talk fast. DP Warren Lynch does some very nice film shooting, particularly the outdoors night scenes, but that doesn't serve to make this more than an average picture.
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6/10
B movie from Warners
blanche-21 September 2014
John Litel and Ann Dvorak star in "Midnight Court," a 1937 B movie from Warners.

Litel plays Victor Shanley, an ex-DA who turned to drink, was removed from office and divorced by his wife Carol (Dvorak). He basically becomes a bum. One night, gangster Al Kruger, the head of a hot-car ring, spots Shanley in a bar. Seeing that he's down and out, he's able to hire Shanley to represent the crooks he hires.

Soon Shanley is riding high defending criminals and socking it to the law and order who had gotten rid of him. A young friend of Shanley's, Bob Terrell, was involved in the mob, and to get him out, Shanley gets him a job with an aircraft factory in another state. A situation arises and Shanley knows he has to turn the tables and bring down Kruger.

This is a fast-moving film with nice performances all around. I always remember that John Litel played Nancy Drew's father. He was a solid character actor (and a war hero) who enjoyed a long career, dating back to the 1920s. He was rarely a lead, but here he does a fine job. Ann Dvorak is a delight as his ex-wife, who is still there for him.
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6/10
Justice after Dark
sol-kay20 April 2011
***SPOILER*** Disbarred disgraced and long forgotten former District Attorney Victor Shanley, John Litel, ends up in a skid row ginmill, Joe's Place, that just happens to the the headquarters of big time gangster Al Kruger, William B. Davidson, who by twisting arms in the justice department put him there. Despertely needing cash to support his drinking habit Shanley take the job of being Kruger's mouthpiece, shyster lawyer, in order to get back at the justice system that destroyed his professional life.

It's when Shanley's ex-wife Carol O'Neill, Ann Dvorak, a court clerk spotted her drunk and barley conscious former husband at Judge Fredrick J. Thompson's, Joseph Crehan, courtroom where he was on trial for vagrancy that she took him home to get himself something to eat and a place to seep it off. All cleaned up and with a new set of clothes Shanley goes on a six month winning streak in the city courts getting Kruger's hoods off from being convicted with his skillful manipulating of the city court system. It's later when one of Kuger's men working in his car theft department the young and innocent Bob Terrill, Carlyle Moore Jr, decided to call it quits,in Shanley paying for his collage tuition in becoming an aeronautical engineer, that Kruger has him set up to be knocked off because he knows too much about his criminal operations. With Kruger's right-hand man Slim Jacobs, Stanley Fields, offering Terrill a lift to the train station he murders him and drives his car, with Terrill in it, down a 200 foot embankment to make Terrill's murder look like an accident!

****SPOILERS*** Finally realizing what he got himself into Shanley follows his ex-wife Carol's advice by quitting the Kruger crime syndicate but even goes one step farther in setting a trap for Kruger & Co. in getting them convicted for Terrill's murder! The big showdown comes in Judge Thompson's courtroom with Shanley, now working for the D.A's Office, tricking Slim Jacobs into admitting under cross examination that he was the person who gave Bob Terrill, after he murdered him, the last ride of his life! Wild and crazy final where pandemonium breaks out in the courtroom as Kruger's hoods together with a gun toting Slim Jacobs try to hijack the proceeding, by making their escape, only to be out-gunned and outnumbered by the police who got there just in the nick of time to put the cuffs on them!
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