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Illegal (1955)
Topic Started: Sep 6 2007, 05:30 AM (340 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Illegal (1955) Dir. Lewis Allen
A Warner Bros. Picture
88 min. / B&W / 1:85:1
On DVD from Warner Bros.

Edward G. Robinson is a driven, highly motivated D.A. who discovers he's sent an innocent man to the chair (DeForest "I'm DEAD, Jim!" Kelly). After an interlude with the bottle, he becomes a crack defense attorney, but the kind that gets killers and embezzlers to beat the rap. In fact, he's just as driven at that job as he had been with his previous one, and soon he's in the pocket of local mob boss Albert Dekker, much to the chagrin of the new D.A. (Edward "The Chief" Platt) and Robinson's former assistant, Nina Foch, and her husband, Hugh Marlowe.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Mr. Robinson: "Know why I could never indict you? Because nobody would talk. Why wouldn't they? Because you owned them body and soul. Well, you're not gonna own me. Nobody is."

Good movie, thanks to Robinson, who's terrific. This was actually the third filming of what had begun as a play and which was no doubt a wow on stage (Robinson's courtroom antics are, to say the least, highly theatrical). Foch and Dekker are terrific; I never thought Marlowe was much of an actor before, but after seeing him in this, I'm sure he's not. *L* And check out the blonde bombshell who's Dekker's... ummm... pianist. That's Jayne Mansfield, in her screen debut.

The DVD (which pairs this film with The Big Steal) is fine; a very nice (anamorphic widescreen) picture. Includes a brief new featurette on the film, commentary (including Miss Foch), and an 11 min. segment of "Behind the Screen" with Gig Young taking a look at courtroom dramas, and talking to "Eddie" on the set of this one.

Interesting sidelight: Dekker is a collector of fine art in this film, and several masterpieces are displayed. They were the originals, borrowed for this production from the fabled collection of that esteemed art collector Edward G. Robinson. Eddie and Vincent Price must've had some fascinating conversations when they worked together.
Edited by Laughing Gravy, Nov 5 2017, 10:59 AM.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Laughing Gravy
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Annnnd... I watched this again as part of my Film Noir series. Good movie.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Frank Hale
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I can't remember why, but I re-watched this a few months ago.

On the commentary Nina Foch (rhymes with "gosh") goes on and on about how "stiff" all the actors were. She was a product of Stella Adler's method acting school, and didn't seem to have all that much use for the picture. In her view, Eddie was a good actor, but very old-fashioned.

Well, like you, I still managed to enjoy it somehow, and thought that Miss Foch did just fine also, despite her disclaimers.

The earlier version, "The Mouthpiece", is on the Forbidden Hollywood Vol 10 set, if you haven't seen it. I found it quite entertaining, even if nobody knew how to act.
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The Batman
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It's been a while, but I enjoyed this one, too.

Thanks for the heads up on THE MOUTHPIECE, Mr Hale, I have that set but haven't cracked it yet.

Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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