skip navigation
I Cheated the Law!

I Cheated the Law!(1949)

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)


powered by AFI

John Campbell is the respected Los Angeles defense attorney in the trial of Frank Bricolle, an old Army buddy who is accused of having murdered a night watchman during a robbery. John is unaware of Bricolle's shady background. When Joe Corsi, one of Bricolle's associates, fails to provide him with an an alibi, John puts his own wife Ruth on the witness stand to testify that Bricolle was having dinner in her home at the time of the crime. John then puts himself on the stand and corroborates his wife's testimony, confident that Bricolle is innocent, as the exact time of the murder has been established because the bullet that killed the night watchman passed through him into the employees' time clock, stopping it. The jury finds Bricolle not guilty. Later, while John and Ruth are dining with Bricolle at a nightclub, Bricolle comments privately to John, whose life he saved during the war, about how they have fooled the district attorney. Bricolle then explains his statement: The night before the robbery, Bricolle came down from San Francisco intending to bump into John by "accident." Before dining with John the next evening, he, Corsi and their "inside" man, Al Markham, broke into the Acme Fur warehouse. After they loaded up a truck with furs, Bricolle moved the time clock forward an hour, positioned the watchman in front of it and shot him. While Corsi and Markham drove off with the furs, Bricolle went to dinner at the Campbells' and established his alibi. John pretends to be amused by Bricolle's story and learns that Markham was paid off. The next day, John tells his partner, Rodd Simpson, that he is going to disappear for a while, then takes a bus to San Francisco to look for Bricolle. Soon, a newspaper story reports that John is missing and that foul play is suspected. At a bar John meets a man named Jock and, while pretending to be drunk, shows him Bricolle's business card. Jock takes John to Bricolle's house where John explains to Bricolle that he has had trouble with his wife and family. Bricolle invites him to stay there and gives him a job as his butler. Later, Jerry, another racketeer, tells Bricolle that he needs help with a payroll robbery he is planning in Los Angeles. Bricolle, Corsi and another gang member go to Los Angeles, where District Attorney Randolph has them picked up and gives them forty-eight hours to leave town. Bricolle boasts to the district attorney that he has picked John up out of the "gutter" and that John is now working for him. After Bricolle summons him from San Francisco, John suggests that the district attorney may still be looking for Markham. Bricolle instructs Joe to take care of Markham, and later, John follows Joe to a wooded area and observes him checking the base of a tree. As John investigates the tree, he is surprised by one of Bricolle's thugs, Sad Sam Carney. During the ensuing fistfight, Sam falls into a gully and is killed. John then phones Rodd to ask him to make a proposition to the district attorney. Later, the district attorney indicts Corsi for the watchman's murder and John defends him. However, when John has Corsi on the witness stand, he accuses him of murdering Markham. After Corsi denies the charge, John tells him that a body has been recovered from a grave under the tree and that X-rays and dental records prove that it is Markham, and that he was killed by a bullet from the same gun that killed the night watchman. Corsi panics and says that Bricolle, who is in the courtroom, killed both men. Bricolle draws a gun, shoots at Corsi, but is overpowered by guards. John then explains his recent actions to the judge, and the district attorney arranges to indict Bricolle. Having redeemed himself, John reunites with Ruth.