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The Mouthpiece

The Mouthpiece(1932)

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Remind Me

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When prosecuting attorney Vincent Day's legal arguments result in the execution of an innocent man, he swears he will never prosecute another case. He successfully defends his new clients, but earns very little money until a friendly bartender points out that the big money comes from defending the guilty, not the innocent. Vince embarks on a new career, winning his cases by showmanship rather than on points of law. When an embezzler begs Vince to save him from prison, Vince convinces the embezzler's employer, Mr. Smith, to accept a partial reinbursement in exchange for keeping the crime a secret from company stockholders. Smith reluctantly agrees but later learns that Vince is taking a large portion of the money as his fee rather than returning it to the company and files a complaint against the lawyer. Vince argues that by agreeing not to prosecute the thief, Smith is guilty of compounding a crime and escapes punishment. Vince, who is quite a ladies' man, is charmed by the naivete of his new secretary, Celia. He attempts to seduce her, but in her innocence, she does not understand the meaning of his actions. She watches admiringly in court as Vince downs a bottle that supposedly contains the poison used by his client to murder someone. Later that evening, Vince lures Celia to his apartment and offers to make her his mistress. By chance, he reveals that his taking poison was a trick as he had his stomach pumped after his client was declared innocent. Celia is disgusted by Vince's lack of ethics and quits her job. She plans to get married and move back to Kentucky. Vince is shamed by her rejection. On the day that Celia is to leave, he offers her a check, which he earned writing an article for a law journal. Celia's departure is delayed, however, when her fiancé Johnny is arrested for stealing bonds. Miss Hickey, Vince's faithful personal secretary, rouses him from a severe hangover to defend Johnny. Vince uses his underworld connections to discover who actually stole the bonds and framed Johnny. He asks the real thief to confess as a favor to him, and when the thief refuses, Vince has him arrested. The underworld is outraged that one of their own would form an alliance with the police, and before Vince can inplement his plans to go straight, they gun him down outside his office.