Portia on Trial (1937)

Approved   |    |  Crime, Drama


Portia on Trial (1937) Poster

Lady lawyer Portia Merryman (Frieda Inescourt) defends woebegone Elizabeth Manners (Heather Angel), who is on trial for shooting her lover Earle Condon (Neil Hamilton).


6/10
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21 June 2015 | bbmtwist
7
| Madame X wins!!!
This is a taut, well written, social drama. The performances are solid and the editing and direction are brisk.

I have waited over 50 years to see this, now finally in 2015 out on DVD from a TV print that is 20 minutes shorn of its full length, but at 52 minutes does not seem to be missing any of its core.

I won't try to describe the narrative other than to say this is the Madame X scenario, where the Madame wins and does not die to correct her moral lapses. There is even a dance shared with the son given up who does not know he is dancing with his mother, that made it into the 1946 Madame X take-off, To Each His Own, which finally won an Oscar for this female lead type (Olivia de Havilland in this case).

The decade between 1935 and 1945 allowed all studios to submit to the Academy their "best" in the four audio categories (song, sound, original score, scoring) and be guaranteed an Oscar nom, regardless of the quality of the film or the offering within the category. This, like most Republic offerings during the period, is one of those.

The score which won the nomination is mediocre and pedestrian, perfectly acceptable for a B film, but in no way remarkable. It only appears in the following scenes: Main Title and Intro; Remembrance of son; Portia prepares to go out; Clients; Home Visit; Before the Judge; Party; Murder; End Title.

To be commended are veteran character actress, Ruth Connelly, as Portia's assistant, and Frieda Inescourt herself in a stellar performance.

Now available on DVD for the first time. Worth a watch.

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Crime | Drama

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