5 April 2016 | bkoganbing
No clergy for Barrymore and Twelvetrees
Although there was nothing explicitly sexual in the dialog of State'a Attorney this film definitely belongs in the 'Before the Code' category of films. It was only in post World War II America that you could have a hero with all the frailties of John Barrymore and I'm not talking about Barrymore's drinking.
Helen Twelvetrees plays the usual wronged innocent who comes to top flight criminal attorney Barrymore when he's slumming in night court. He takes her case and then takes up with her and she convinces him to go over to the other side and start prosecuting the people he previously defended like top mobster William Boyd. He and Boyd have considerable history going back to when they were kids.
The Code would end heroes like John Barrymore's character. In his quest for power and respectability he dumps Twelvetrees with whom he was living without benefit of clergy and takes up with quirky Jill Esmond who is rich and her old man Oscar Apfel is powerful. The union does not last long, but no movie hero once the Code was in place would either live with a woman without being married to her or dump said woman strictly for his own ambitions.
Early sound Barrymore and he had not given in to dissipation as he would in his last years. It's an old fashioned acting style but still worthy of giving a look to and enjoying. It was a follow up for Jack possibly in response to brother Lionel playing a lawyer and winning an Oscar for a dramatic courtroom climax in A Free Soul. He also has a climatic courtroom scene, and while not as dramatic it was affective indeed for the junior Barrymore brother.