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Ladies of the Jury

(1932 b 63')

En: 5 Ed: 4

In this comedy a talkative woman asks questions during a murder trial and persuades the rest of the jury the woman is innocent.

Newspapers report that an ex-chorus girl shot her husband. The vivacious Mrs. Crane (Edna May Oliver) is examined as a juror. She does not oppose the death penalty and is sworn in. Mrs. Gordon (Jill Esmond) is prosecuted for pre-meditated murder; but she often protests her innocence. Mrs. Crane asks if the lawyers are under oath to tell the truth and questions witnesses. Dr. James testifies he found Mr. Gordon shot dead. The Gordons' maid Evelyn Snow testifies that Mrs. Gordon left her husband a week before, and before the shooting she was angry with him. Snow saw her with the gun in her hand. The defense attorney calls her a liar. Mrs. Gordon testifies that her husband tried to shoot her and that the gun went off accidentally while she was trying to stop him. She says that he thought she was unfaithful. Mrs. Crane questions her in French about the age of her husband. Mrs. Gordon says Snow asked for money not to lie. The prosecutor asks Mrs. Gordon if she married him for money and accuses her of killing him to get the money by his will.

The jury retires and votes one at a time. Eleven vote guilty, but then Mrs. Crane votes not guilty, believing Mrs. Gordon is innocent. She says Snow was lying. The other jurors believe Mrs. Gordon lied; they argue, and a fight starts. Mrs. Crane calls for another ballot, and Steve Bromm changes his vote. Mrs. Crane learns Mayme was a chorus girl too, and she and another man change their minds. The vote is 8-4 for several ballots. Mrs. Crane talks to Mrs. McGuire about cooking and says she needs a cook after the acquittal. Mrs. Crane dances with Mr. Dazy. Dinner is brought in, and Mrs. Crane orders candy and cigars. She gets the officer to give her maid a note to consult a detective agency. Now ten vote not guilty. Mrs. Crane suggests they visit the Gordon home.

Snow tells Chauncey Gordon (Leyland Hodgson) she may go to the judge if he doesn't pay her the rest of the money; but he refuses until Mrs. Gordon is convicted. He hides behind a wall. Mrs. Crane and the foreman re-enact the murder, and the gun goes off. Mrs. Crane discovers Chauncey Gordon. Mrs. Crane's maid brings a telegram saying they found proof that Chauncy Gordon paid Snow $10,000. The jury decides not guilty.

This satire shows how petty human concerns may affect jurors deciding a question of life or death. Only an outspoken and independent woman prevents a great miscarriage of justice.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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