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The Nuisance

(1933 b 83')

En: 6 Ed: 6

A shyster lawyer, who sues ruthless corporations for accident victims, falls in love with the company's detective.

Joseph Phineas Stevens (Lee Tracy) leaves a law office full of people to rush to a victim of a streetcar accident. He sends the alcoholic Dr. Prescott (Frank Morgan) to the hospital. Stevens gives cops at the jail cheap cigars and gets $270 for a larceny case and gets him off. Prescott needs $100 and gets it from Stevens, ordering "cod liver oil." While Stevens haggles with Kelley (David Landau) over a settlement, Mr. Mannheimer dies. Floppy Phil (Charles Butterworth) pretends to be injured by Stevens' car; but Stevens, knowing his work, soon hires him. Stevens, Prescott, and Floppy sign up people at a streetcar wreck. Stevens takes Dorothy (Madge Evans) home. When Mrs. Mannheimer (Greta Meyer) says she is marrying Willy before the trial, Stevens and Prescott cite a new law and put Willy in the hospital.

Dorothy arranges to see Stevens as a lawyer, and he has her wear dark glasses so she can claim eye damage. The streetcar company's lawyer Calhoun (John Miljan) has three doctors examine the healthy Dorothy; but Prescott finds injuries. She asks Prescott for his bootlegger's address and informs Calhoun. Floppy keeps Mrs. Mannheimer from calling a doctor. Prescott is offered $500 to say how he makes x-ray composites and tells Kelley they win in court. Stevens calls Prescott a stool pigeon. Prescott would rather be dead than testify and walks in front of a car and is killed. Stevens tells Dorothy he wished he knew how Calhoun and Kelley found out. He tells her how he lost his first case to Calhoun on fake witnesses and became a success at "dog eat dog." Dorothy tells Stevens she likes him. The next day she quits and tells Calhoun and Kelley she won't testify; but Calhoun threatens her with perjury if she doesn't. Stevens stops Dorothy from leaving on a train, discovering her connection to Calhoun.

In court Calhoun questions Dorothy to prove that Stevens suborned her perjury; but Stevens stops it by revealing that they were married, and she can't testify against him. Stevens suggests an annulment. Dorothy says she loved him but hates him now. Dorothy is put in jail for perjury, and Calhoun tells Stevens she knew she was going to jail when they got married. So Stevens and his men use technical violations to harrass the streetcar company but to no avail. Floppy gets hit by Calhoun's car in a frame-up, and Calhoun gets Dorothy released. Stevens tells her he was wrong, and he promises to be honest; but in the final scene he plans to represent Floppy in another accident case.

The fast-talking Stevens plays every trick he can against the "soulless corporations" on behalf of the downtrodden whether it is ethical or not until he is ensnared by a beautiful woman. Now can he become honest or will he lose her?

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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