The Lawyer's Secret (1931)

Passed   |    |  Crime, Drama


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21 April 2019 | AlsExGal
| The story and the actors are better than the dialog and pacing..
... and I'll lay that at the feet of the directors (count 'em - there are two). This is an early talkie and suffers from the slow pacing of many of those films, plus there is no score whatsoever. The dialog is minimalist in a story that really demands many more words than we get, and much more in the establishment of relationships.

A sailor winds up blowing all his pay at a gambling joint while on leave, he "borrows" a car to get back to his ship on time, gets caught doing that, and then is apprehended in the murder of the guy running the gambling joint. It doesn't help that his gun shot the man. But the truth is the sailor sold his gun to a fellow gambler so he could stay in the game awhile longer. He doesn't have any witness to him selling the gun, and he has no idea who it was he sold the gun to. Will he hang or not? Watch and find out.

This film is full of Paramount talent from the silent era trying to make it in talkies - Clive Brook, Richard Arlen, Charles Buddy Rogers. Plus there is the new talent brought in for talking film - Fay Wray and Jean Arthur. Don't expect screwball Jean Arthur. Here she is so plain vanilla you can hardly taste her.

As for relationships, forget about it. How do I know that Fay Wray and Clive Brooks are engaged? Because they tell me they are! There is zero chemistry between them. There is more chemistry between Charles Buddy Rogers and Fay Wray as brother and sister!

This could have risen to an 8/10 with better direction and dialogue, given the delightful irony of the situation. But I'll give it a respectable 6 as is. If only Hitchcock could have gotten hold of it. It's just the kind of "wrongly accused" story he so loved to direct.

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