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A DA falls apart when his machinations send an innocent man to the chair.
In Los Angeles, police arrest Edward Clary for murder, despite his protests that he is innocent. Victor Scott, a highly acclaimed district attorney, prosecutes Clary with evidence gathered by chief investigator Ray Borden and assistant Ellen Miles, who is the daughter of Victor's deceased mentor. In court, jurors carefully chosen by Victor are stirred by his summation and convict Clary. Having won the difficult case, Victor's reputation soars and he makes plans to run for governor. Then, the real killer confesses and Victor is unable to stop Clary's execution in time. Ashamed that his drive to succeed has resulted in an innocent man's death, Victor resigns, drinks heavily and rejects the consolation of Ellen, who loves him although he treats her like a daughter. To discourage Ellen, Victor sends her away and advises her to marry Ray, who has often proposed. Ellen and Ray keep their jobs at the district attorney's office under their new boss, Ralph Ford. Victor opens a private law office, hoping to attract corporate contracts, but former colleagues refuse to refer clients to him. Later, a morally deteriorated Victor slugs a man and is arrested. While awaiting trial, Victor watches the manslaughter hearing of Carter, who struck a man with a lead pipe during a brawl. A diminutive man, Carter claims that he acted in self-defense, when the victim, a drunken prizefighter, beat him repeatedly with his fists. Later, Victor overhears Carter accuse Taylor, the lead witness, of having been knocked unconscious before the deathblow occurred and decides to defend Carter in court. During Carter's trial, the stocky Taylor testifies that he was conscious during the whole brawl and boasts adamantly that no one could knock him out. As Taylor exits the stand, Victor discredits his testimony by knocking the witness unconscious with a swift blow. After winning the case, Victor confides to Ellen that he had a roll of nickels concealed in his fist when he hit Taylor. Ellen sees that Victor's confidence has been restored, and realizes that his self-sufficiency will always stand between them. Impulsively, she announces, to Ray's surprise, that she and Ray are getting married. Later, knowing that Victor has been suppressing his feelings for Ellen, Miss Hinkel, his faithful secretary, scolds him for not marrying Ellen years ago. Short on funds, Victor takes an anxious new client, Parker, who shows up at his office with $60,000 in cash, which is all he has left of $90,000 he embezzled from his employer. In exchange for partial restitution, Victor convinces company head Art Smith not to prosecute. Afterward, Parker and Smith realize that Victor has kept $10,000 as his fee. Angered, Smith reports to Ford that Victor stole the money, but when Victor produces the agreement signed by Smith, Ford admits that he can do nothing. After Smith leaves, Ford rebukes him and Victor argues that his actions were legal and in his client's interest. Later, Andy Garth, a gunman working for mob boss Frank Garland, coerces Victor to accompany him to Garland's expensive apartment. Ray, who is secretly visiting there, leaves by a different entrance to avoid being seen. As blonde piano player Angel O'Hara auditions for Garland's nightclub, Garland shows off his art collection to Victor and explains that Smith's company is one of his legitimate businesses. Although he intended to demand the return of the $10,000, Garland offers Victor a position in his syndicate instead, but Victor refuses, not wanting to be "owned." Later, Victor defends Al Carol, a businessman accused of poisoning his partner. When Ellen warns Victor that the D.A. has the bottle of poison Carol used, Victor asserts the D.A.'s analysis is incomplete. During the trial, Victor drinks from the bottle to prove that it does not contain poison and his theatrics win the case. After cutting short his admirers' congratulations, Victor rushes from the courthouse. Knowing that the poison takes forty-five minutes to take effect, a fact the chemist excluded from the official report, Victor has arranged for a physician to pump his stomach. After the trial, Victor is invited to a victory party, where he learns that Carol is one of Garland's closest associates. When the mobster presents him with $15,000, Victor accepts the money and, implicitly, Garland's job offer. Victor rebuilds his reputation as a successful lawyer, but Ford and other attorneys suspect that he has lost his integrity. Ellen accuses Victor of winning cases through corruption, bribery and dishonesty, and she warns him that Ford knows official information is being leaked to Garland. In an attempt to find the leak's source, Ford tells his employees he plans to arrest one of Garland's minions and assigns men to watch Ellen, whom he suspects is the informer because of her connection to Victor. At home that evening, after sending Ellen on an errand, Ray calls Garland, but finding him unreachable, leaves a message with Angel, who is the mobster's current paramour. Ellen, returning earlier than expected, overhears Ray and realizes he is Garland's accomplice. When Ray tries to push her out the window, she struggles, picks up his gun and shoots him in self-defense. Believing Ellen killed Ray because he discovered her connection to Garland, Ford charges her with first-degree murder. At first, Garland tries to stop Victor from defending Ellen in court, but Victor convinces him that an autonomous lawyer might discover incriminating information. To win the trial swiftly, Victor suggests that Garland order Garth to "confess" and implicate Ray, but Garland refuses, knowing that Garth is untrustworthy. Garth shoots Victor on the way to Ellen's trial, and is then killed by police tailing the attorney. In the courtroom, the gravely wounded Victor calls Angel to the stand and she testifies that Ray called Garland on the night of his death. Satisfied that Ray was the informer and that he has evidence to indict Garland, Ford drops charges against Ellen. The dying Victor collapses to the floor and tells her, "The next time I tell you to marry someone, don't listen to me."
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1955||Production Date:||
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono (RCA Sound System)||Production Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
|Duration(mins):||87-88 or 90||Country:||United States|
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kevin sellers 2016-08-03
A combination of B movie silly and B movie interesting. The ludicrous part of the film swirls around such laughable scenes as a defense attorney allowed to...
Mr. Blandings 2011-10-23
Edward G. is riveting in his performance as a too ambitious D.A. who ends up sending an innocent man (Star Trek's Dr. McCoy, DeForest Kelly) to the...
Jay Higgins 2009-08-12
Solid film noir, boosted immensely by Edward G. Robinson's excellent performance. Fine supporting cast, well written. Good pace and it's not...