The Chaser


1h 15m 1938

Brief Synopsis

Love trips up an ambulance-chasing lawyer.

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Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Release Date
Jul 29, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

While the county bar association discusses ambulence chasing by unscrupulous attorneys, one of its members, Thomas Z. Brandon, leaves when he learns the location of an accident. After Thomas signs up the sole victim, who is only slightly injured, the city's representative, Simon Kelly, warns him to stop, as does his friend, alcoholic doctor Prescott, but Thomas hopes to get rich with this and other unethical cases. When ambulance chasing soon becomes illegal, Thomas remains a thorn in the side of Mr. Beaumont, head of the local street car company, because he uses trickery to win cases of dubious merit. One night, after Thomas has rushed with two of his shills to the scene of a major accident, he goes over to pretty Dorothy Mason and offers to be her attorney, even though she is not injured and his appearance there could mean disbarment. Thomas doesn't know it, but Dorothy is actually fronting for Calhoun, the street car company's lawyer, who is trying to entrap Thomas. After promising to win Dorothy's case, Thomas arranges for an examination by Prescott, but before that, she secretly is examined by three respected physicians hired by Calhoun. Prescott tells Dorothy she is fine, then gives her a list of things to memorize to fake her injuries. She then tells Calhoun where Prescott will be and he sends Kelly to pretend that he has been fired and wants to work Thomas' racket, then offers him $250- to help. Meanwhile, Dorothy goes to dinner with Thomas and, after consulting with Calhoun, takes him to a roller skating rink where detectives have followed "Floppy" Phil, Thomas's shill, and Mrs. Olson, the widow of a client who actually did die of his injuries. A melee erupts when a photographer takes pictures of the "grieving" widow, after which Thomas and Dorothy return to his office to find Prescott showing files to Kelly. Prescott is remorseful when he realizes his mistake, but Thomas tells him to get out, then has a change of heart and tries to call him back. It is too late, though, because Prescott has been killed by a car. After this, Thomas takes Dorothy to his apartment and reveals that he became an ambulance chaser because Calhoun had used phony witnesses in their first case as adversaries. She then realizes that she loves Thomas, but can't tell him what she has done. When she goes to Calhoun to quit, he threatens her, so she decides to quickly leave town. Thomas stops her, but Phil has found out who she is and tells him. Because he thinks she has been lying about her feelings, though, he says nothing to her. During their lawsuit, Dorothy first perjures herself about the accident, then, under cross examination, reveals that she has just married Thomas and will therefore be unable to testify against him in any misconduct case. After her testimony, Thomas refuses to have anything to do with her until she is arrested for perjury and Phil tells him that she was trying to save him all along. Thomas then goes to Calhoun and Beaumont offering to leave town if they let her go, but they won't until Thomas's persistence in stopping all public transportation through the use of archaic laws, and a trumped up drunk driving charge for Calhoun forces them to relent. Dorothy at first refuses to go with Thomas, but changes her mind when he promises to change and proves it by accepting a parking ticket from a policeman without trying to weasel out of it.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Release Date
Jul 29, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to reviews for the film, this was Ann Morriss' motion picture debut. A Hollywood Reporter news item notes that this film marked Viennese composer Paul Kerby's first film assignment. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item on June 16, 1938, Walter Strohm replaced Arthur Rose as unit manager due to Rose's illness. M-G-M previously had filmed this story in 1933 as The Nuisance, directed by Jack Conway and starring Lee Tracy and Frank Morgan. Although the Call Bureau Cast Service and Motion Picture Herald's "In the Cutting Room" both list Lana Turner in the film's cast, she was not in the viewing print and her part, "Miss Rutherford," was not in the film's cutting continuity. Neither Turner's autobiography nor modern sources on her career mention the role, which probably was cut from the released film.