23 February 2015 | marcslope
Twilight of Claude Rains
OK courtroom drama from Perlberg-Seaton, with MGM capitalizing on Richard Chamberlain's TV success by casting him as a rather Kildare-like defense attorney. He's recently widowed, and he's given the unenviable job of defending sleazy-but-polite Nick Adams, who's already confessed, twice, to murdering Pat Buttram, a well-liked local politico who was trying to make time with Adams' sluttish wife, Joey Heatherton. Chamberlain's OK, and so are the courtroom exploits, with a screenplay that seems to delight in pushing the envelope a bit in terms of sexual conversation circa 1963. There's discussion of impotence, sleeping nude, and prostitution, and several sequences of Joey Heatherton twitching luridly next to a jukebox. But the best reason to watch is Claude Rains, as Chamberlain's former professor and current legal adviser. He looks genuinely unsteady and hasn't many good lines, but it's a beautiful, modest, underplayed performance. Joan Blackman is on hand as his daughter, to provide the rather tepid romantic interest, and Jeanette Nolan is good (when wasn't she) as Buttram's protective widow. The flashback format is unwieldy, and Boris Sagal directs it like it's a big TV show, but it keeps your interest pretty steadily, especially as a barometer of what was and wasn't permissible on screen in1963.