Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Edna May Oliver is one of my favorite supporting players of all time. Her range may be limited, but when she’s in her element, usually as a droll, horse-faced, opinionated spinster, a good time is practically guaranteed. Here, she’s a scatterbrained rich lady who is called for jury duty in the case of a former chorus girl accused of murdering her rich husband. Like a comic version of the later 12 ANGRY MEN, most of the action takes place in the jury room after the lawyers have argued their cases. Among the other jurors are a stutterer, an Irish matron, a doofus, a gum-snapping totsy, a stagy actor, a mannish lesbian, and a real estate agent. Oliver is the only one who thinks the girl is innocent, and slowly, by making friends and sowing seeds of dissent, she gets the jurors, one by one, on her side, even fixing up two of the jurors as a romantic pair. As it appears that they will reach a deadlock, Oliver arranges for the jury to visit the murder scene to reenact the shooting, and while there, they discover what really happened, and Oliver is proven right. This is generally fun because of Oliver at her pushy, obnoxious best; other cast members include Jill Esmond (Lawrence Olivier’s wife at the time), Roscoe Ates (the stutterer), Ken Murray and Cora Witherspoon. I've reviewed several Edna May Oliver films over the years, but here's a link to my review of her Hildegarde Withers films, in which she played a Miss Marple-ish schoolteacher. [TCM]

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