16 November 2012 | dougdoepke
A Warren William Showcase
An ambitious Ass't DA switches his talents to defending the mob. But is it permanent.
Watching the imperious Warren William (Day) as a legal shark is really impressive. He's got all the tricks of a Houdini, along with the ethics of a cobra. Drinking the poison in court is a real grabber. This part of the movie is riveting and dynamic playing to William's commanding strength. And that's so, even if the diminutive ingenue Fox (Cecilia) is a foot shorter and a lot younger, so there seems something illegal going on when they passion kiss. I can understand the peculiar casting here since Fox projects just the kind of sweet innocence that might turn the head of even the most jaded scalawag. Still, the big turnaround doesn't really jibe with Day's power-grabbing character, and in my book, undercuts the initial setup of its powerful promise.
Speaking of characters, Aline MacMahon (Hickey) darn near steals the film as Day's wisecracking secretary. What a shrewd piece of casting since few actresses can actively compete with the forceful William. Yet, she does, and makes you believe it. Good to see her cast as someone besides a maiden aunt or the family wallflower. Despite the story's central difficulty, this is a smooth production, fluidly paced, that demonstrates the expert professionalism of the old studios, in this case Warner Bros. Anyway, here's to Warren William, a great screen personality deserving of rediscovery.