Illegal (1955)

87-88 or 90 mins | Melodrama | 15 October 1955

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HISTORY

Actor DeForest Kelley's surname is misspelled as "Kelly" in the opening credits. Scenes of the murder of "Edward Clary’s" girl friend, and his subsequent arrest are shown without dialogue, in a montage interspersed with opening credits. The death of "Victor Scott" in the last scene, as mentioned in reviews, is not shown explicitly, but is implied. Exteriors of downtown Los Angeles are shown throughout the film.
       According to information contained in the file on the film in the Warner Bros. Archive at the University of Southern California Cinema-Television Library, paintings seen in the office of "Frank Garland" were original oil paintings owned by Edward G. Robinson, a well-known art collector. According to Warner Bros. memos, Robinson loaned the studio six paintings, cumulatively valued at over $213,000, for the production. Two of the paintings, Dancers in Repose by Edgar Degas and Tahitian Flowers by Paul Gaugin are shown prominently in scenes set in Garland's office. At one point, Robinson's character, "Victor Scott," comments that he could never afford originals. Two other paintings, which are later shown in Scott's office, included Courtroom in the Country by George Roualt and Beautiful Model by André Derain. Warner Bros. memos also stated that two original paintings by actress Gladys Lloyd, who was then married to Robinson, were also used in the film, but their exact placement within the story has not been determined.
       Although their appearance in the film has not been determined, HR production charts add Phil Arnold, Jack Lomas and Jean Anderson to the cast. Warner Bros. memos indicate that actor James Daly was originally considered for ... More Less

Actor DeForest Kelley's surname is misspelled as "Kelly" in the opening credits. Scenes of the murder of "Edward Clary’s" girl friend, and his subsequent arrest are shown without dialogue, in a montage interspersed with opening credits. The death of "Victor Scott" in the last scene, as mentioned in reviews, is not shown explicitly, but is implied. Exteriors of downtown Los Angeles are shown throughout the film.
       According to information contained in the file on the film in the Warner Bros. Archive at the University of Southern California Cinema-Television Library, paintings seen in the office of "Frank Garland" were original oil paintings owned by Edward G. Robinson, a well-known art collector. According to Warner Bros. memos, Robinson loaned the studio six paintings, cumulatively valued at over $213,000, for the production. Two of the paintings, Dancers in Repose by Edgar Degas and Tahitian Flowers by Paul Gaugin are shown prominently in scenes set in Garland's office. At one point, Robinson's character, "Victor Scott," comments that he could never afford originals. Two other paintings, which are later shown in Scott's office, included Courtroom in the Country by George Roualt and Beautiful Model by André Derain. Warner Bros. memos also stated that two original paintings by actress Gladys Lloyd, who was then married to Robinson, were also used in the film, but their exact placement within the story has not been determined.
       Although their appearance in the film has not been determined, HR production charts add Phil Arnold, Jack Lomas and Jean Anderson to the cast. Warner Bros. memos indicate that actor James Daly was originally considered for the role of reporter "Joe Knight." Illegal marked the motion picture debut of actress Jayne Mansfield (1933--1967). Warner Bros. script material reveals that Mansfield was to appear in a nightclub scene, where she would sing two new songs, but that sequence was not included in the released film. Script information in the Warner Bros. archives indicate that, initially, the victim in the opening scene was to be shot while taking a bubble bath in a sunken tub but MPAA officials objected.
       Warner Bros. had made two previous films based on the Frank J. Collins play: the 1940 production, The Man Who Talked Too Much , which was directed by Vincent Sherman and starred George Brent and Virginia Bruce and the 1932 production The Mouthpiece , directed by James Flood and Elliott Nugent, and starring Warren William (see entries). As noted in reviews for the 1932 film, the main character was inspired by real-life lawyer William J. Fallon. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Sep 1955.
---
Cue
29 Oct 1955.
---
Daily Variety
31 Aug 1955
p. 3.
Film Daily
19 Sep 1955
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Feb 1955
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1955
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 1955
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 1955
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 1955
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
13 Mar 1955.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Nov 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Sep 1955
p. 577.
New York Times
29 Oct 1955
p. 12.
Variety
31 Aug 1955
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-Starring
Co-Starring
with
Clark Howat
Joseph Hamilton
Richard Simmons
John Beradino
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
From a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills
Head grip
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst props
COSTUMES
Ward
Men's ward
Men's ward
Women's warb
MUSIC
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Body makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Tech adv
STAND INS
Stand-in for Edward G. Robinson
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Mouthpiece by Frank J. Collins (Brooklyn, NY, 10 Jun 1929).
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 October 1955
Production Date:
14 February--15 March 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 October 1955
Copyright Number:
LP7248
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.75:1
Duration(in mins):
87-88 or 90
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17439
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, police arrest Edward Clary for murder, despite his protests that he is innocent. Victor Scott, a highly acclaimed district attorney, prosecutes Clary with evidence gathered by chief investigator Ray Borden and assistant Ellen Miles, who is the daughter of Victor’s deceased mentor. In court, jurors carefully chosen by Victor are stirred by his summation and convict Clary. Having won the difficult case, Victor’s reputation soars and he makes plans to run for governor. Then, the real killer confesses and Victor is unable to stop Clary’s execution in time. Ashamed that his drive to succeed has resulted in an innocent man’s death, Victor resigns, drinks heavily and rejects the consolation of Ellen, who loves him although he treats her like a daughter. To discourage Ellen, Victor sends her away and advises her to marry Ray, who has often proposed. Ellen and Ray keep their jobs at the district attorney’s office under their new boss, Ralph Ford. Victor opens a private law office, hoping to attract corporate contracts, but former colleagues refuse to refer clients to him. Later, a morally deteriorated Victor slugs a man and is arrested. While awaiting trial, Victor watches the manslaughter hearing of Carter, who struck a man with a lead pipe during a brawl. A diminutive man, Carter claims that he acted in self-defense, when the victim, a drunken prizefighter, beat him repeatedly with his fists. Later, Victor overhears Carter accuse Taylor, the lead witness, of having been knocked unconscious before the deathblow occurred and decides to defend Carter in court. During Carter’s trial, the stocky Taylor testifies that he was conscious during the whole brawl and boasts adamantly that no ... +


In Los Angeles, police arrest Edward Clary for murder, despite his protests that he is innocent. Victor Scott, a highly acclaimed district attorney, prosecutes Clary with evidence gathered by chief investigator Ray Borden and assistant Ellen Miles, who is the daughter of Victor’s deceased mentor. In court, jurors carefully chosen by Victor are stirred by his summation and convict Clary. Having won the difficult case, Victor’s reputation soars and he makes plans to run for governor. Then, the real killer confesses and Victor is unable to stop Clary’s execution in time. Ashamed that his drive to succeed has resulted in an innocent man’s death, Victor resigns, drinks heavily and rejects the consolation of Ellen, who loves him although he treats her like a daughter. To discourage Ellen, Victor sends her away and advises her to marry Ray, who has often proposed. Ellen and Ray keep their jobs at the district attorney’s office under their new boss, Ralph Ford. Victor opens a private law office, hoping to attract corporate contracts, but former colleagues refuse to refer clients to him. Later, a morally deteriorated Victor slugs a man and is arrested. While awaiting trial, Victor watches the manslaughter hearing of Carter, who struck a man with a lead pipe during a brawl. A diminutive man, Carter claims that he acted in self-defense, when the victim, a drunken prizefighter, beat him repeatedly with his fists. Later, Victor overhears Carter accuse Taylor, the lead witness, of having been knocked unconscious before the deathblow occurred and decides to defend Carter in court. During Carter’s trial, the stocky Taylor testifies that he was conscious during the whole brawl and boasts adamantly that no one could knock him out. As Taylor exits the stand, Victor discredits his testimony by knocking the witness unconscious with a swift blow. After winning the case, Victor confides to Ellen that he had a roll of nickels concealed in his fist when he hit Taylor. Ellen sees that Victor's confidence has been restored, and realizes that his self-sufficiency will always stand between them. Impulsively, she announces, to Ray's surprise, that she and Ray are getting married. Later, knowing that Victor has been suppressing his feelings for Ellen, Miss Hinkel, his faithful secretary, scolds him for not marrying Ellen years ago. Short on funds, Victor takes an anxious new client, Parker, who shows up at his office with $60,000 in cash, which is all he has left of $90,000 he embezzled from his employer. In exchange for partial restitution, Victor convinces company head Art Smith not to prosecute. Afterward, Parker and Smith realize that Victor has kept $10,000 as his fee. Angered, Smith reports to Ford that Victor stole the money, but when Victor produces the agreement signed by Smith, Ford admits that he can do nothing. After Smith leaves, Ford rebukes him and Victor argues that his actions were legal and in his client’s interest. Later, Andy Garth, a gunman working for mob boss Frank Garland, coerces Victor to accompany him to Garland’s expensive apartment. Ray, who is secretly visiting there, leaves by a different entrance to avoid being seen. As blonde piano player Angel O’Hara auditions for Garland’s nightclub, Garland shows off his art collection to Victor and explains that Smith’s company is one of his legitimate businesses. Although he intended to demand the return of the $10,000, Garland offers Victor a position in his syndicate instead, but Victor refuses, not wanting to be “owned." Later, Victor defends Al Carol, a businessman accused of poisoning his partner. When Ellen warns Victor that the D.A. has the bottle of poison Carol used, Victor asserts the D.A.’s analysis is incomplete. During the trial, Victor drinks from the bottle to prove that it does not contain poison and his theatrics win the case. After cutting short his admirers’ congratulations, Victor rushes from the courthouse. Knowing that the poison takes forty-five minutes to take effect, a fact the chemist excluded from the official report, Victor has arranged for a physician to pump his stomach. After the trial, Victor is invited to a victory party, where he learns that Carol is one of Garland’s closest associates. When the mobster presents him with $15,000, Victor accepts the money and, implicitly, Garland's job offer. Victor rebuilds his reputation as a successful lawyer, but Ford and other attorneys suspect that he has lost his integrity. Ellen accuses Victor of winning cases through corruption, bribery and dishonesty, and she warns him that Ford knows official information is being leaked to Garland. In an attempt to find the leak’s source, Ford tells his employees he plans to arrest one of Garland’s minions and assigns men to watch Ellen, whom he suspects is the informer because of her connection to Victor. At home that evening, after sending Ellen on an errand, Ray calls Garland, but finding him unreachable, leaves a message with Angel, who is the mobster’s current paramour. Ellen, returning earlier than expected, overhears Ray and realizes he is Garland’s accomplice. When Ray tries to push her out the window, she struggles, picks up his gun and shoots him in self-defense. Believing Ellen killed Ray because he discovered her connection to Garland, Ford charges her with first-degree murder. At first, Garland tries to stop Victor from defending Ellen in court, but Victor convinces him that an autonomous lawyer might discover incriminating information. To win the trial swiftly, Victor suggests that Garland order Garth to “confess” and implicate Ray, but Garland refuses, knowing that Garth is untrustworthy. Garth shoots Victor on the way to Ellen's trial, and is then killed by police tailing the attorney. In the courtroom, the gravely wounded Victor calls Angel to the stand and she testifies that Ray called Garland on the night of his death. Satisfied that Ray was the informer and that he has evidence to indict Garland, Ford drops charges against Ellen. The dying Victor collapses to the floor and tells her, “The next time I tell you to marry someone, don’t listen to me.”
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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