12 user 2 critic

The Unknown Man (1951)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 16 November 1951 (USA)
An attorney successfully defends a young hoodlum charged with murder but later has doubts about his client's innocence and starts investigating his background and associations.


Richard Thorpe


Learn more

More Like This 

Mystery | Film-Noir | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A dancer is pinned for murder after his shoe prints are found at the scene of the crime. His wife follows the trail of clues to the genuine killer.

Director: William Nigh
Stars: Don Castle, Elyse Knox, Regis Toomey
Decoy (1946)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A mortally wounded female gangster recounts how she and her gang revived an executed killer from the gas chamber, to try and find out where he buried a fortune in cash.

Director: Jack Bernhard
Stars: Jean Gillie, Edward Norris, Robert Armstrong
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An electronics expert creates a huge bookie broadcast system for his crime boss, and takes over operations when his boss is murdered. His greed leads him on a deadly destructive path.

Director: Joseph M. Newman
Stars: Edmond O'Brien, Joanne Dru, Otto Kruger
Deep Valley (1947)
Certificate: Passed Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A farm girl falls in-love with a chain-gang convict working at a nearby highway construction site and sets-out to help him when he escapes.

Director: Jean Negulesco
Stars: Ida Lupino, Dane Clark, Wayne Morris
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Many interested parties are after the loot from a factory payroll heist but the mobster who hid it has amnesia after undergoing experimental brain surgery in the prison hospital.

Director: Lew Landers
Stars: Edmond O'Brien, Audrey Totter, Ted de Corsia
The Gangster (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Barry Sulivan is a cynical gangster who controls the Neptune Beach waterfront. He runs a numbers racket with the local soda shop owner: the police are in his pocket and the local hoods are on his payroll.

Director: Gordon Wiles
Stars: Barry Sullivan, Belita, Joan Lorring
Roadblock (1951)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Honest LA insurance detective Joe Peters becomes corrupt after falling in love with sensual gold-digger model Diane.

Director: Harold Daniels
Stars: Charles McGraw, Joan Dixon, Lowell Gilmore
The Web (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An attorney acting as a body guard, apparently kills a man in defense of his employer's life, and later believes the victim was set up to be murdered.

Director: Michael Gordon
Stars: Ella Raines, Edmond O'Brien, William Bendix
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Fugitive Bill Saunders and lonely nurse Jane Wharton are crossed by fate when he hides out in her apartment.

Director: Norman Foster
Stars: Joan Fontaine, Burt Lancaster, Robert Newton
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Paul, a young man whose father was once lieutenant Governor of California before his untimely death, has a strange, recurring dream in which his mother falls in love with a dangerous man (... See full summary »

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Stars: Jimmy Lydon, Sally Eilers, Warren William
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A naive small-town girl comes to New York City to meet her husband, and discovers that he may be a murderer.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Kim Hunter, Dean Jagger
Plunder Road (1957)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Five men rob a train in Utah of 10 million dollars in gold and head to Los Angeles in 3 trucks hoping to meet up with their beautiful accomplice, and leave the country.

Director: Hubert Cornfield
Stars: Gene Raymond, Jeanne Cooper, Wayne Morris


Complete credited cast:
Walter Pidgeon ... Dwight Bradley Masen
Ann Harding ... Stella Masen
Barry Sullivan ... Joe Bucknor
Keefe Brasselle ... Rudi Wallchek
Lewis Stone ... Judge James V. Hulbrook
Eduard Franz ... Andrew Jason Layford
Richard Anderson ... Bob Masen
Dawn Addams ... Ellie Fansworth
Philip Ober ... Wayne Kellwin
Konstantin Shayne ... Peter Hulderman
Mari Blanchard ... Sally Tever
Don Beddoe ... Ed
John Maxwell ... Dr. Palmer
Robert B. Williams ... Sam (as Robert Williams)


Prominent attorney Brad Mason takes on the defense of Rudi Walchek, a young hit-man hoodlum accused of murder. Convinced of the youthful thug's innocence, Mason get him acquitted. Later, he learns from the murder-victim's father that Walchek is a low-level member of a protection-racket gang and was undoubtedly guilty. Mason is anxious to get the gang-leader, but when he discovers it is the eminently respected head of the city's Crime Commission, he feels that a conviction in a court-of-law would be impossible. In a rage, he kills the man, but all evidence, including the murder weapon points to Walchek. When the latter is again brought to trial, Mason, although he senses a higher justice is at work, feels he must defend him with the best of his ability. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Who are the mysterious powers? (US poster) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

16 November 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Behind the Law See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$618,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$381,000, 31 December 1951

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$711,000, 31 December 1951
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Too Tricky for Its Own Good
6 June 2010 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Those early scenes between DA Sullivan and attorney Pidgeon are beautifully played. Note how subtly a competitive sense is conveyed, along with professional respect and perhaps mild dislike. So when Pidgeon decides to take Wallchek's (Braselle) case and challenge the DA, we understand why. Pidgeon is excellent throughout. His resonant voice and dignified bearing suggest that Old Testament worship of the law that drives Brad's character. Ditto Sullivan's first-rate performance. Nonetheless, his DA takes a more pragmatic view of the law, one that's importantly tempered by reality.

Too bad the rest of the movie doesn't measure up. Crime dramas whether noir or procedure were simply not MGM's strong suit. LB Mayer's philosophy was escapism and celebrity stars, and not even new production chief Dore Schary's background at gritty RKO could modify the entrenched tradition. Director Thorpe was one of Mayer's favorites because of his ability to complete projects under-budget. Unfortunately, that style-less efficiency is on bland display here as the scenes unfold in strictly mechanical fashion. Crucially, there are no visual (noirish) counterparts to Pidgeon's moral dilemma.

Then too, the screenplay apes fashion of the day by needlessly involving a "Mr. Big" as the invisible mastermind behind crime in the city. Thus, what starts out as a very real legal dilemma—exonerating a guilty man and what to do about it—evolves into a contrived storyline, not helped by a highly contrived climax in the prison cell. That compelling premise really does deserve a more thoughtful, less tricky, development than what it gets here. Then too, once you think about it, I'm not sure how well the scales of justice actually balance, contrary to what the final scene appears to imply. Anyway, two fine performances are largely wasted in what another reviewer aptly calls a minor film.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 12 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed