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Society Lawyer (1939)

Society lawyer Christopher Durant agrees to defend his friend Phil Siddall when Siddall is arrested for the murder of an ex-girlfriend. With the help of nightclub singer Pat Abbott and ... See full summary »


Edwin L. Marin


Frances Goodrich (screen play), Albert Hackett (screen play) | 3 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Pidgeon ... Christopher Durant
Virginia Bruce ... Pat Abbott
Leo Carrillo ... Tony Gazotti
Eduardo Ciannelli ... Jim Crelliman
Lee Bowman ... Phil Siddall
Frances Mercer ... Sue Leonard
Ann Morriss ... Judy Barton
Herbert Mundin ... Layton
Frank M. Thomas ... Lieutenant Stevens
Edward Brophy ... Max (as Edward S. Brophy)
Tom Kennedy ... Alf
Clarence Kolb ... Mr. Leonard
Pierre Watkin ... Henry V. Adams
Ian Wolfe ... Schmidt
Paul Guilfoyle ... Murtock


Society lawyer Christopher Durant agrees to defend his friend Phil Siddall when Siddall is arrested for the murder of an ex-girlfriend. With the help of nightclub singer Pat Abbott and crime boss Tony Gazotti (a former client), Durant launches his own investigation of the murder in order to prove his friend's innocence. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


NIGHT OVER MANHATTAN...and a killer strikes in a luxurious Park Avenue penthouse! (original poster) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

21 March 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Night in Manhattan See more »


Box Office


$232,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The $100,000 retainer Tony offers Chris would equate to over $1.8M in 2018. See more »


Followed by Stronger Than Desire (1939) See more »


I'm In Love with the Honorable Mr So & So
Music and Lyrics by Sam Coslow
Played during the opening credits, the end credits and as background music often
Sung by Virginia Bruce (uncredited) in a nightclub
Reprised a cappella by her in Durant's apartment
See more »

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User Reviews

remake of Penthouse, and don't think about it too much
11 September 2015 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

"Society Lawyer" is a B movie from MGM, and a remake of the precode "Penthouse" with Myrna Loy and Warner Baxter. This time around it stars Walter Pidgeon and Virginia Bruce. Other roles are played by Lee Bowman, Leo Carrillo, Eduardo Cianelli, and Herbert Mundin.

Pidgeon plays a lawyer Christopher Durant, who works in a prestigious law firm, but he has a penchant for the lower criminal classes and is able to get mobster Tony Gazotti (Carrillo) found not guilty of a charge. Gazotti, who calls Durant "sweetheart" is deeply indebted to him.

Christopher and his fiancé Sue (Frances Mercer) break up; she has fallen for his friend, Phil Siddall (Bowman). The two part amicably.

Siddall winds up arrested for murder of his ex-girlfriend Judy Barton, which is the weakest part of the story. For some reason, she calls him and asks to meet him, just so she can tell him off - and he goes! A shot is fired, which Siddall thinks is a backfire, and then he notices she is bleeding. A gun lands at his feet, and he picks it up.

Sue asks Christopher for his help, and he turns to Gazotti for the lowdown on people who might be involved. He introduces Christopher to a nightclub singer, Pat Abbott (Bruce) who lived in the same building as Judy and knows some of the characters.

Pidgeon does a good, relaxed job, even if he's a little too high class for the perps he likes to defend. Herbert Mundin is very funny as the butler in his last film, as he died in a car accident after the movie completed. Virginia Bruce is lovely with a bright, upbeat presence. Eduardo Ciannelli is his usual gangster self. Ciannelli was an interesting person - he was an international opera star who became an actor and starred in a number of plays before hitting the movies.

Entertaining mostly due to the acting.

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