Within the Law (1939)

65 mins | Drama | 17 March 1939

Director:

Gustav Machaty

Producer:

Lou Ostrow

Cinematographer:

Charles Lawton

Editor:

George Boemler

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

According to HR pre-release news items, actor Lee Bowman was originally set for the part of "Richard Gilder," but was replaced by John King, who, in turn, was replaced by Tom Neal. HR also notes that casting difficulties for the female lead held up the start of production. This was the first of two American feature films directed by Czechoslovakian-born Gustav Machaty. He previously had directed the M-G-M short The Wrong Way Out in 1938. Machaty is perhaps most famous for the direction of the Czechoslovakian films Seduction (1929) and Ecstasy (1933), the latter starring Hedy Lamarr, and notorious at the time for its nudity. Within the Law was performed on the Lux Radio Theatre program on 14 Oct 1935, and starred Joan Crawford, who reprised her part from the 1930 film version of the story. According to a Dec 1938 HR news item, M-G-M signed Bernard Nedell and Rosalind Russell to star in a radio performance of the story for its Good News radio program. Other versions of Bayard Veiller's play, all under the same title, include the 1917 Vitagraph film, directed by William P. S. Earle and starring Alice Joyce and Walter McGrail (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.5038); the 1923 Joseph M. Schenck Productions film, directed by Schenck and starring Norma Talmadge and Jack Mulhall; and the 1930 M-G-M film Paid , directed by Sam Wood and starring Joan Crawford and Robert Armstrong (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.4103 and F2.6436). In addition, a ... More Less

According to HR pre-release news items, actor Lee Bowman was originally set for the part of "Richard Gilder," but was replaced by John King, who, in turn, was replaced by Tom Neal. HR also notes that casting difficulties for the female lead held up the start of production. This was the first of two American feature films directed by Czechoslovakian-born Gustav Machaty. He previously had directed the M-G-M short The Wrong Way Out in 1938. Machaty is perhaps most famous for the direction of the Czechoslovakian films Seduction (1929) and Ecstasy (1933), the latter starring Hedy Lamarr, and notorious at the time for its nudity. Within the Law was performed on the Lux Radio Theatre program on 14 Oct 1935, and starred Joan Crawford, who reprised her part from the 1930 film version of the story. According to a Dec 1938 HR news item, M-G-M signed Bernard Nedell and Rosalind Russell to star in a radio performance of the story for its Good News radio program. Other versions of Bayard Veiller's play, all under the same title, include the 1917 Vitagraph film, directed by William P. S. Earle and starring Alice Joyce and Walter McGrail (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.5038); the 1923 Joseph M. Schenck Productions film, directed by Schenck and starring Norma Talmadge and Jack Mulhall; and the 1930 M-G-M film Paid , directed by Sam Wood and starring Joan Crawford and Robert Armstrong (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.4103 and F2.6436). In addition, a Broadway Television Theatre production of Within the Law , directed by Richard Barr and Richard Lukin and starring Lola Montez and Orson Bean, aired on non-network television on 6 Jun 1952. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Mar 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Apr 39
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 38
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 39
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
17 Mar 39
p. 9.
Motion Picture Herald
4 Mar 39
p. 52.
Motion Picture Herald
18 Mar 39
p. 49.
New York Times
6 Apr 39
p. 31.
Variety
12 Apr 39
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Mont eff
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Within the Law by Bayard Veiller (New York, 11 Sep 1912).
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 March 1939
Production Date:
early February--25 February 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 March 1939
Copyright Number:
LP8750
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
65
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5173
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

When shopgirl Mary Turner is framed by one of her co-workers for stealing store jewelry, hard-boiled department store owner Mr. Gilder prosecutes her and insists that the judge sentence her to three years in prison rather than allow her to serve a probation at the store. In prison, Mary asks the librarian to recommend reading material, and when Mary tells her the length of her prison sentence, the librarian recommends the novel Gone With the Wind . Because she has decided to exact revenge on the man who ruined her life, Mary declines the novel and instead asks to read law books. During her three years behind bars, Mary befriends fellow inmate Agnes, a gangster's moll, who introduces Mary to gangster boss Joe Garson when they are released from prison. Mary soon becomes the mastermind of the gang by counseling them to always stay within the law, take advantage of the loopholes and confound the police and prosecutors by legal trickery. Mary soon decides to take revenge on Gilder by involving the gang in a scheme to extort a large sum of money from him. When Mary sends Agnes to Gilder's store to pose as a customer and raise Gilder's suspicions that she is paying with a bad check, Agnes is arrested and the gang sees to it that her check is good. The false accusation causes Gilder embarassment and forces him to pay Agnes a settlement of $20,000 to keep the incident out of the courts. The second part of Mary's revenge scheme begins when she starts to date Gilder's son Richard, who does not know about Mary's past. ... +


When shopgirl Mary Turner is framed by one of her co-workers for stealing store jewelry, hard-boiled department store owner Mr. Gilder prosecutes her and insists that the judge sentence her to three years in prison rather than allow her to serve a probation at the store. In prison, Mary asks the librarian to recommend reading material, and when Mary tells her the length of her prison sentence, the librarian recommends the novel Gone With the Wind . Because she has decided to exact revenge on the man who ruined her life, Mary declines the novel and instead asks to read law books. During her three years behind bars, Mary befriends fellow inmate Agnes, a gangster's moll, who introduces Mary to gangster boss Joe Garson when they are released from prison. Mary soon becomes the mastermind of the gang by counseling them to always stay within the law, take advantage of the loopholes and confound the police and prosecutors by legal trickery. Mary soon decides to take revenge on Gilder by involving the gang in a scheme to extort a large sum of money from him. When Mary sends Agnes to Gilder's store to pose as a customer and raise Gilder's suspicions that she is paying with a bad check, Agnes is arrested and the gang sees to it that her check is good. The false accusation causes Gilder embarassment and forces him to pay Agnes a settlement of $20,000 to keep the incident out of the courts. The second part of Mary's revenge scheme begins when she starts to date Gilder's son Richard, who does not know about Mary's past. One month passes, and after Mary and Richard secretly marry, Richard introduces her to his father, who immediately reveals Mary's past to his son. Although Mary admits that she married Richard to avenge herself, Richard refuses to believe that she is capable of stealing and ignores his father's demand that the marriage be annulled. Later, just as the male members of the gang are about to steal a valuable Rembrandt painting from Gilder's house, Mary and Agnes learn of the robbery and go to Gilder's to try to stop them. When Mary is caught in Gilder's home, she is accused of the attempted theft until it is discovered that gang member "English" Eddie Morton tipped off the police about the theft in order to frame Mary. Shortly thereafter, it is learned that Eddie has been killed. In order to protect herself, Mary insists that Richard shot Eddie to defend his home, and Richard does not deny the charge. Police Chief McGuire, who does not believe that Richard was the killer, questions Joe, who remains loyal to Mary and confesses his guilt. Meanwhile, Richard is informed by the detectives whom he hired to investigate the store theft that Mary did not steal anything and that the real thief has been caught. Consequently, Gilder repents and begs Mary's forgiveness, and Mary is free to begin her life over with Richard. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.