28 February 2000 | Michael-110
Extremely melodramatic but quite interesting film about sexual mores and "The Unwritten Law"
In "The Unashamed" the Ogdens are a wealthy family that is very close and loving. Jean falls in love with a crass fortune hunter named Harry Swift who is obviously after her money. Her father and brother try everything to dissuade her. To force the issue, Harry persuades Jean to spend the night in a hotel with him (horrors!) When they fling this unheard of behavior in the face of her father and brother, to induce them to consent to marriage, things go badly. Jean's brother Dick shoots and kills Swift. However, Dick wants only to protect Jean's honor so he insists to his defense lawyer, Trask, that Jean be kept out of it completely.
The latter half of the movie consists of Dick's trial, and Trask's problem in trying to save Dick from the electric chair while protecting his wishes not to tell the real story of what happened. Thus Trask is not allowed to use the "unwritten law" as a defense (that's the one that allows husbands to kills their wives and wives' lovers). In addition, Jean is extremely bitter toward her father and brother since they've ruined her happiness. So she's not about to cooperate in the defense. Until...
This picture is extremely melodramatic, in a style which seems rather alien to us today, and a lot of the acting and dialogue is too stagy for our taste. Nevertheless, for its time, it was quite well done. The issues of class, honor and gender that the film raises may seem quaint but there were very real to rich people of the 20's and 30's. Similarly, the courtroom scenes are quite well executed with a real attempt to observe appropriate legal proecdures. The ultimate twist ending is also quite effective and will remind you of a more recent (and classic) courtroom movie.