The Spellbinder (1939)

Approved   |    |  Crime, Drama, Romance

The Spellbinder (1939) Poster

Jed Marlowe is a brilliant, scheming, unscrupulous criminal lawyer whose specialty is defending criminal he knows is guilty but gets them off through loop-holes or bribery. Then his ... See full summary »


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20 June 2004 | neroville
Like an hour-long Perry Mason episode
Watching this film, you can't help but wonder where Raymond Burr was hiding.

This somewhat dull courtroom drama feels like an hour-long Perry Mason episode, with Linda Hayes in the inevitable "Della Street" role to provide a modicum of romantic interest for the aging leading man, Lee Tracy. The plot is not worth describing; what I did find interesting that immediately after a series of amusing second features in which Tracy played youthful wise-acre roles similar to those in his Pre-Code heyday (such as "Crashing Hollywood" and "Wanted: Jane Turner"), Tracy has abruptly aged into a staid middle-aged character actor. (Interestingly he made this movie right after his return to Hollywood and his honeymoon in pre-war Europe with his bride, Helen Thomas, a former insurance agent.) In any case, he turns in a great performance- suiting the role, it's more mature and nuanced than usual, and it transcends the mediocre script. It's also intriguing to see Mr. Tracy playing a father, which was not something he did that often.

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