A look at two pre-Code courtroom melodramas, Unashamed and Two Against the World, compared to the sensational real-life society murder that inspired the movies. Unashamed stars Helen Twelvetrees, Robert Young, and Monroe Owsley, while Two Against the World stars Constance Bennett and Neil Hamilton.
Warren William has his breakthrough role in The Mouthpiece, first and best of the 1932 cycle of William J. Fallon inspired lawyer films. Background on Fallon and his legacy included.
A history of Madame X concentrates on the 1937 film version starring Gladys George. Includes a biography of Gladys George with comparison to Ruth Chatterton’s 1929 performance.
Stage legend Elsie Ferguson plays in her final film and only talkie, Scarlet Pages (1930), a courtroom drama offering a view of feminism at that time. Due to its mature content Scarlet Pages was successfully marketed as what was considered a “dirty picture” by 1930 standards.
Paramount’s 1934 version of The Witching Hour is light on stars and, despite the title, isn’t even a horror movie. An early Henry Hathaway film based on the 1907 hit play by Augustus Thomas and featuring strong performances from John Halliday and Sir Guy Standing. It’s all covered here.
Phillips Holmes takes on Walter Huston’s corrupt judge in MGM’s Night Court (1932), a pre-code drama directed by W.S. Van Dyke and also featuring Anita Page, Lewis Stone and Noel Francis.
The Night of June 13th (1932) was Paramount’s answer to Street Scene in which they set an ensemble cast loose on each other in the suburbs. With Clive Brook, the first pairing of Charles Ruggles and Mary Boland, plus Lila Lee, Gene Raymond, Frances Dee, Charley Grapewin and many others.
The Purple Heart (1944), directed by Lewis Milestone and starring Dana Andrews, is a World War II courtroom drama imagining the trial and fate of captured Doolittle Raid fliers before the world knew exactly what had happened to them. Part of the Dana Andrews blogathon.
Warner Brothers’ Lawyer Man (1932) starring William Powell and Joan Blondell is one of a series of pre-code era lawyer films. Loosely based on the life and style of real-life mouthpiece William J. Fallon.
Tyrone Power’s masterful final performance as Leonard Vole in Witness for the Prosecution (1957) with Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton, directed by Billy Wilder.