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(1939 b 73')

En: 5 Ed: 4


A lawyer represents miners in Reno and then develops a big practice with divorce cases, putting a strain on his own marriage.

In Reno Mrs. Joanne Ryder (Anita Louise) buys a drink and gambles, asking Tony to call the police. She owes $4400 and has no money. Joanne is taken to owner Bill Shear (Richard Dix), who says he knows all about her and her desire for a divorce. Joanne shows police a button that controls the roulette wheel. In the trial Bill defends himself and testifies about Reno's history.

In 1905 Bill arrives; but attorney Augustine Welch (Charles Halton) refuses to hire a shyster. Bill hires Jessie (Gail Patrick) to type at night and defends Briggs against Welch's suit. Bill blames the plaintiff's liquor and gets the jury drunk, winning the case. Bill buys champagne for Abe Compass (Hobart Cavanaugh) and Jessie and dances with her. Jessie agrees to marry Bill and gets the miner George to switch from Welch to Bill, who wins over the small miners and makes Welch submit. Jessie drives a car and tells Mrs. Gardner (Laura Hope Crews) they are going to Paris. Jessie sees Bill with a divorce client and is jealous. Abe tells Bill that the miners are leaving and warns him Reno will become a ghost town. Bill gets a check from a divorced woman, and Jessie has a baby named Joanne. Bill has Abe print publicity about divorces, and he makes money on divorce cases. Jessie and Bill have John Banton (Paul Cavanagh) over for dinner, and he shows Jessie around.

Jessie finds Bill dining with a client, who has a spat with another woman over Bill. Abe complains about Banton seeing Jessie, but Bill and Jessie don't mind. Jessie wants to leave Reno and says Banton wants to marry her, but she stays with Bill. Mrs. Gardner invites Jessie and Bill to stop rumors, but Bill comes in and slugs Banton. Bill tells Abe he sold the house. Abe says he is leaving and urges Bill to fight the divorce. Bill tells her lawyer he will, but he agrees not to appear. Welch accuses Bill before the Bar Association, and Bill is disbarred while Jessie gets a divorce. Banton tells Jessie he wishes he was Bill, and Jessie throws away her ring. At the train Bill says good-bye to his daughter and Jessie.

In his trial Bill says he went into gambling; but when his daughter Joanne wanted a divorce, he started cheating. Joanne refuses to testify, and the case is dismissed. Bill asks Joanne about Jessie, and they leave together.

This epic drama shows how Reno's divorce business affected the personal life of a lawyer. The treatment reflects current censorship but nonetheless indicates that divorce is becoming more socially acceptable.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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