Movie Mirrors Index

Society Lawyer

(1939 b 78')

En: 5 Ed: 4


Based on the same story as the 1933 film Penthouse, a gangster's lawyer agrees to defend a friend framed by another gangster and gets a singer to help him catch the murderers.

Lawyer Chris Durant (Walter Pidgeon) gets gangster Tony Gazotti (Leo Carrillo) acquitted, rips up his bonus check, and calls Gazotti a rat. Gazotti gives him two body guards, but Chris dismisses them. Chris resigns from a conservative firm and tells Sue Leonard (Frances Mercer) he quit her father's firm. Sue ends it with Chris and tells Phil Siddall (Lee Bowman) she prefers him. Judy Barton (Ann Morriss) greets Phil with a kiss, but he says he is marrying. Judy gets angry and calls Jim Crelliman (Eduardo Ciannelli). Judy goes to Crelliman's party, and he tells her to end it with Phil. A shot is heard, and Phil is seen with a gun standing over Judy. Sue asks Chris to help Phil, but Chris gets a call threatening him if he takes Phil's case. Phil tells police he picked up the gun. Chris takes the case and calls Gazotti for information on Crelliman.

In a nightclub Gazotti tells Chris that Crelliman has an alibi, and Pat Abbott (Virginia Bruce) sings. Gazotti leaves Chris with Pat, who knew Judy. Chris takes Pat home for eggs and asks her help, saying she must stay there for safety. Pat says that Judy went to pawnbroker Schmidt. Chris gets the murder photos and shows his butler Layton (Herbert Mundin) that she was shot from above. Pat has breakfast. Sue comes in and asks Chris to drop Phil's case. Pat tells Sue why she is there. Pat tells Chris that her apartment overlooks the terrace that Crelliman owns. Chris tells Pat not to leave and goes to Schmidt (Ian Wolfe), who tells him to get out. Chris calls on Gazotti and asks him to get Schmidt to talk; but Gazotti says Schmidt was just killed. Chris says Crelliman framed Phil. Chris goes to Pat's apartment, and Crelliman comes in and offers him $100,000 for a sea voyage. Chris takes Crelliman's gun by force and leaves. Chris goes to the apartment above and gets help escaping.

Gazotti warns Chris about Crelliman's killer Murtock (Paul Guilfoyle), who dines with Pat and leaves with her. Chris blames Gazotti for Pat spying; but Pat tells Chris she distracted Murtock to protect him, and Chris realizes he loves Pat. Gazotti calls Chris that Murtock is in danger. Pat calls Crelliman to meet him. Chris tells Lt. Stevens that Murtock killed Judy. Police arrest Murtock, and Chris says he is going to shoot Crelliman down on the terrace to frame Murtock. When Pat gets Crelliman on the terrace, Murtock confesses he killed Judy for Crelliman, who threatens Pat below. Chris finds Gazotti was shot, and he dies. In the final scene Layton tells Pat that Chris wants to marry her.

Jilted lawyer Chris sobers up to handle a dangerous case, acting more like a detective than a lawyer.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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