The Jury's Secret


1h 5m 1938

Brief Synopsis

Bill Sheldon (Larry J. Blake as Larry Blake) has a grudge against Midland City newspaper publisher Brandon Williams (Samuel S. Hinds) as Sheldon blames the city's recent flood against Williams for using his power and influence to hold up government flood control money. When Williams is found murdered, Sheldon is charged with the crime that was actually committed by Walter Russell (Kent Taylor), the paper's rebel editorial writer. Ney York reporter Linda Ware (Fay Wray) arrives to cover the story and finds that Russell, her old sweetheart, is on the jury hearing Sheldon's trial. She also discovers that he is the killer. Russell forces an acquittal and, before another trial can be held, realizes that his conscience will not permit him to let Sheldon be tried again.

Film Details

Also Known As
Deadlock, Deadlocked, More Than Love
Release Date
Jan 16, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

When four hundred people die in a flood in Midland City, corrupt tycoon and phony philanthropist Brandon Williams, who has a daily newspaper column, encourages the citizens to remain stalwart and rebuild their city. William Sheldon, the self-appointed spokesperson for the lowland dwellers, who have repeatedly been the victims of floods due to government neglect, gives a speech condemning Williams' duplicitous attitude toward the people and his manipulations of city politicians. Aware that Williams is leaving town to escape the disaster mayhem, Bill publicly declares that unless Williams advocates a flood control bill, he won't be allowed to leave town. Williams, meanwhile, decides to continue his daily morale-boosting editorials while on his trip, but his ghost writer, Walter Russell, a failed novelist whom Williams has paid amply through the years, refuses to write for him any longer. Williams plans to recoup his million-dollar flood losses by instigating a panic on Midland stock, thereby bankrupting thousands of Midland citizens. Aware that Russell is heavily invested in Midland stock, Williams tries to blackmail him into remaining in his employ, but Russell stabs and kills him with a letter opener. Bill then comes to visit Williams and, denied entry by the butler, enters through the library terrace and finds Williams dead. The butler assumes Bill is the murderer, and Bill is arrested. While on his way out of town, Russell hears about the arrest and returns to Midland. Linda Ware, a Midland native who is now a journalist in New York, is sent to Midland to cover the murder trial, which has made national headlines. Years before, Linda and Russell were in love and he dedicated his first novel to her with the phrase, "I could not love thee, dear, so much, Lov'd I not honor more." Once reunited, they discover they are still in love, but while they plan a honeymoon trip, Russell receives a jury summons for Bill's trial. Linda convinces Russell it is his duty to serve, especially as public opinion has already deemed Bill guilty. Bill's mother and girl friend, meanwhile, have hired noted lawyer John Morrow, who senses that Russell will be the dissenting juror who will save Bill. The trial proves a travesty of justice. The judge is preoccupied with his upcoming fishing trip, while the jurors declare Bill guilty from the start. On the last day of the trial, the prosecutor plays for the court a recording of Williams' last editorial, and Linda recognizes Russell's voice on the tape. After twenty hours of deliberation, the jury is deadlocked and a new trial is set for the following week. Although Russell is relieved to have done his part in saving Bill, Linda points out that Morrow has quit the case and Bill will most likely be found guilty. When she sees a dictaphone in his apartment, Linda verifies with Russell's butler that Russell was Williams' ghost writer and is now sure he is the killer. Hoping to appeal to Russell's sense of honor, Linda leaves her glove on top of the dedication page to his novel and says goodbye to him. At 8:10, from a train bound for New York, Linda writes a telegram to her editor that, at 8:15, Walter Russell confessed to the murder of Brandon Williams.

Cast

Kent Taylor

Walter Russell

Fay Wray

Linda Ware

Jane Darwell

Mrs. Sheldon

Nan Grey

Mary Morris

Larry Blake

William Sheldon

Fritz Leiber

John Morrow

Leonard Mudie

District Attorney

Samuel S. Hinds

Brandon Williams

Granville Bates

Judge [Pendergast]

Halliwell Hobbes

John [the butler]

Edward Broadley

Williams' butler

William Davidson

Don Page

Billy Wayne

Baker

Robert Spencer

Jones

Ted Osborne

Reporter Thompson

Joe Cunningham

Reporter

Drew Demarest

Reporter

Frank O'connor

Reporter

Harry C. Bradley

Jury foreman

Bert Roach

Juror Hackenmier

Virginia Sale

Miss Montague, juror

John "skins" Miller

Juror Simms

Lillian Elliott

Mrs. Muller, juror

Ferris Taylor

Attorney Appleby

Dick Rush

Bailiff

Art Yeoman

Juror

Jack Gardner

Juror

Ralph Brooks

Juror

Russ Powell

Juror

Charles Francis

Juror

Tom Jackson

Jackson, editor

Ben Lewis

Assistant editor

Spencer Charters

Old man

Otto Hoffman

Old man

Chester Clute

Secretary

Dick Elliott

Graves

Ben Taggart

Jenkins

Stanley Blystone

Mullen

William Gould

Sheriff

Robert Homans

Cop

Bruce Mitchell

Cop

William H. Royle

Cop

Ed Phillips

Brady

Hugh Huntley

Brennan

Elsa Christian

Dot Miller

Leonard Sues

Copy boy

Ray Johnson

Man in corridor

Edward Earl Kay

Man in corridor

Lane Chandler

Man in corridor

Heinie Conklin

Shabby man

Ernie Adams

Shabby man

Betty Brown

Stylish woman

Billy Engle

Waiter

Ed Brian

Messenger boy

Broderick O'farrell

Conductor

Frances Robinson

Dorothy Miller

William Lundigan

Announcer

Henry Hunter

Court clerk

Harry Tenbrook

Charles Murphy

Betty Roche

Film Details

Also Known As
Deadlock, Deadlocked, More Than Love
Release Date
Jan 16, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film's working titles were More Than Love, Deadlocked and Deadlock. According to files in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, on October 6, 1937, Joseph I. Breen, Director of the PCA, wrote to Universal censor Harry H. Zehner informing him that this film was in violation of the Production Code because of "the kidding and ridiculing of the administration of justice, which tends to undermine respect for, and confidence in the law." Breen listed his particular objections as follows: "The judge's deliberate wise-cracking while on the bench seems inconsistent with judicial dignity....omit wink on the part of Juror Graves, in order to avoid this suggestion of perjury. All the business of the Judge examining a catalogue for fly rods on the bench, practicing in his chambers, being dressed for fishing, and impatient to get away, is an undue and anti-social reflection on the judiciary....do not exhibit any money in connection with the poker game in the jury room. The business of the Foreman tossing a coin for the verdict is objectionable, and must be omitted." Breen also objected to part of "Sheldon's" speech in which he refers to "a powerful lobby in the United States Senate," and suggested the line, "He controlled the political machine." Breen asked that Universal omit the "gruesome details" in showing the stabbing of "Williams," advised subsituting the words "public sentiment" for "lynch mob" in the newspaper insert, and suggested that a reference be made to some other criminal than the "Lindbergh kidnapper." A memo dated October 12, 1937 states that, as a result of a conference with PCA officials and Universal executives, "it is definitely understood that in the finished picture, there must be nothing that would cast reflection on the Judiciary or the Judicial processes." Despite Breen's protestations, in the final print, the judge is preoccupied with his fishing trip, and the jury is more interested in being released from their duty than in insuring that justice is served. This film includes stock footage of floods. The Universal production files found at the USC Cinema/Television Library contain discrepancies with the Call Bureau Cast Service of the character names of some of the film's bit players.