Sunday, December 04, 2011


There's a crime wave going on and the DA (Jerome Cowan) is being blamed for failing to get convictions; he can't beat powerful lawyer Edmund Lowe, known as the Wolf of New York, who keeps getting crooks off in court. Lowe's former secretary (Rose Hobart), daughter of a police inspector, left his employ and now works in Cowan's office, though she and Lowe are still friendly. One of the biggest crooks of all is James Stephenson (pictured at right), investment banker by day, dealer in stolen bonds by night. When one of Stephenson's men is arrested during a robbery, Lowe is hired to defend him and uses an underhanded trick to get the jury to find the man not guilty. Soon, Hobart's father gets a break in a case against Stephenson, thanks to baby-faced Maurice Murphy, an ex-con gone straight whom Lowe has taken under his wing. When Stephenson has the police inspector killed, he frames Murphy who, though defended by Lowe, is found guilty and executed. Later, thanks to a deathbed confession by another con, Cowan realizes that an innocent man has been put to death and resigns. Upset over his inability to save Murphy, Lowe starts drinking and giving up cases, but soon Hobart gets the governor to appoint Lowe DA, and Lowe gets a chance to get the goods on Stephenson.

This mild B-crime film could have used a rewrite (too much narrative, and too much of it related as background exposition) and better leads, but the supporting cast is fun. The urbane Stephenson, who would have his big breakthrough later that year as Bette Davis' lawyer in THE LETTER, is the main reason to watch, though Cowan is fine in his few scenes. Murphy (at left) makes a convincing patsy, and Ben Weldon provides comic relief as a henchman. In fact, the comic lines are better than average here. I'm not a fan of the wooden Lowe, though he comes off a little better here than usual, but Hobart is deadly dull, and the two have no chemistry at all. [TCM]

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