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Illegal (1955)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 15 December 1955 (Italy)
After an overly aggressive district attorney unknowingly sends an innocent man to the chair, he resigns, turns to drinking, and acquires a criminal clientèle.

Director:

Lewis Allen

Writers:

W.R. Burnett (screenplay), James R. Webb (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward G. Robinson ... Victor Scott
Nina Foch ... Ellen Miles
Hugh Marlowe ... Ray Borden
Jayne Mansfield ... Angel O'Hara
Albert Dekker ... Frank Garland
Howard St. John ... E.A. Smith
Ellen Corby ... Miss Hinkel
Edward Platt ... Ralph Ford
Jan Merlin ... Andy Garth
Robert Ellenstein ... Joe Knight
Jay Adler ... Joseph Carter
Henry Kulky ... Taylor
James McCallion ... Allen Parker
Addison Richards ... Steve Harper
Lawrence Dobkin ... Al Carol
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Storyline

Ambitious D.A. Victor Scott zealously prosecutes Ed Clary for a woman's murder. But as Clary walks "the last mile" to the electric chair, Scott receives evidence that exonerates the condemned man. Realizing that he's made a terrible mistake he tries to stop the execution but is too late. Humbled by his grievous misjudgement, Scott resigns as a prosecutor. Entering private practice, he employs the same cunning that made his reputation and draws the attention of mob kingpin, Frank Garland. The mobster succeeds in bribing Scott into representing one of his stooges on a murder rap and Scott, in a grand display of courtroom theatrics, wins the case. But soon Scott finds himself embroiled in dirty mob politics. The situation becomes intolerable when his former protege in the D.A.'s office is charged with a murder that seems to implicate her as an informant to the Garland mob. Can Victor defend the woman he secretly loves and also keep his life? Written by Chris Stone <jstone@bellatlantic.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He was a guy who marked 100 men for death - until a blonde called 'Angel' O'Hara marked him for life! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 December 1955 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Ilegal See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Frank Garland's impressive collection of Impressionist art actually was loaned to the film by collector Edward G. Robinson. Included are works by Gaugin, Degas, Duran, and Robinson's wife, Gladys Lloyd. See more »

Goofs

When the newspaper salesman sells a paper to a man on the street following Clary's execution, nothing is printed on the back side. See more »

Quotes

Victor Scott: As for me, I'd rather see a hundred guilty men go free than convict another innocent man.
See more »

Connections

References Miracle in the Rain (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

Too Marvelous for Words
(uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Jayne Mansfield (dubbed by Bonnie Lou Williams)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Edward G. Robinson Could Play Charles Manson and Make Him Likable
20 September 2010 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

A bit of far-fetched legal melodrama is anchored by the performance of that old pro Edward G. Robinson.

Robinson plays a renowned attorney with a flair for the theatrical who turns crooked after he finds out a man he sent to the chair was truly innocent and his faith in the system of justice is shaken. He attracts the attention of a crime kingpin because of his skill in winning cases by any means necessary, but he suffers a crisis of conscience when his sort-of surrogate daughter/sort-of love interest (Nina Foch) ends up on trial for a murder she didn't commit that's tied to the activities of the crime boss.

Robinson is terrific as usual. He excelled at roles like this one -- the rogue anti-hero who doesn't play by anyone's rules but his own. You always root for him, even when he's the bad guy.

"Illegal" is packaged as a film noir, but it's not even close to being one, so you might be disappointed if that's what you're expecting. However, if you can get past that, it's a fun, snappy film that has a refreshingly off-kilter unpredictability to it. Three quarters of the way through the film I was still trying to guess where it was headed.

Grade: B+


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