Illegal (1955)

Approved   |    |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Illegal (1955) Poster

After an overly aggressive district attorney unknowingly sends an innocent man to the chair, he resigns, turns to drinking, and acquires a criminal clientèle.


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20 September 2010 | evanston_dad
| Edward G. Robinson Could Play Charles Manson and Make Him Likable
A bit of far-fetched legal melodrama is anchored by the performance of that old pro Edward G. Robinson.

Robinson plays a renowned attorney with a flair for the theatrical who turns crooked after he finds out a man he sent to the chair was truly innocent and his faith in the system of justice is shaken. He attracts the attention of a crime kingpin because of his skill in winning cases by any means necessary, but he suffers a crisis of conscience when his sort-of surrogate daughter/sort-of love interest (Nina Foch) ends up on trial for a murder she didn't commit that's tied to the activities of the crime boss.

Robinson is terrific as usual. He excelled at roles like this one -- the rogue anti-hero who doesn't play by anyone's rules but his own. You always root for him, even when he's the bad guy.

"Illegal" is packaged as a film noir, but it's not even close to being one, so you might be disappointed if that's what you're expecting. However, if you can get past that, it's a fun, snappy film that has a refreshingly off-kilter unpredictability to it. Three quarters of the way through the film I was still trying to guess where it was headed.

Grade: B+

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