The Mouthpiece (1932)

86 or 90 mins | Drama | 7 May 1932

Writer:

Joseph Jackson

Cinematographer:

Barney McGill

Editor:

George Amy

Production Designer:

Esdras Hartley

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Contemporary sources note the film's similarity to the life of New York City's famous criminal lawyer William J. Fallon, who was known for his use of psychology to sway juries. Fallon was also considered to be the inspiration for the 1932 RKO film State's Attorney (see entry). The 1940 Warner Bros. film The Man Who Talked Too Much was also based on the Collins play (see entry). In 1955, a remake entitled Illegal was produced by Warner Bros. with Edward G. Robinison as the lawyer. That film was directed by Lewis Allen from a script by W. R. Burnett and James R. Webb. ...

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Contemporary sources note the film's similarity to the life of New York City's famous criminal lawyer William J. Fallon, who was known for his use of psychology to sway juries. Fallon was also considered to be the inspiration for the 1932 RKO film State's Attorney (see entry). The 1940 Warner Bros. film The Man Who Talked Too Much was also based on the Collins play (see entry). In 1955, a remake entitled Illegal was produced by Warner Bros. with Edward G. Robinison as the lawyer. That film was directed by Lewis Allen from a script by W. R. Burnett and James R. Webb.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
24 Apr 1932
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1932
p. 5
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1932
p. 3
Motion Picture Herald
26 Mar 1932
p. 35
New York Times
21 Apr 1932
p. 25
Variety
26 Apr 1932
p. 13
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITERS
Adpt and dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Vitaphone Orch cond
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Mouthpiece by Frank j. Collins (Brooklyn, NY, 10 Jun 1929).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 May 1932
Production Date:
began week of 1 Feb 1932
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
18 April 1932
LP2990
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
86 or 90
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

When prosecuting attorney Vincent Day's legal arguments result in the execution of an innocent man, he swears he will never prosecute another case. He successfully defends his new clients, but earns very little money until a friendly bartender points out that the big money comes from defending the guilty, not the innocent. Vince embarks on a new career, winning his cases by showmanship rather than on points of law. When an embezzler begs Vince to save him from prison, Vince convinces the embezzler's employer, Mr. Smith, to accept a partial reinbursement in exchange for keeping the crime a secret from company stockholders. Smith reluctantly agrees but later learns that Vince is taking a large portion of the money as his fee rather than returning it to the company and files a complaint against the lawyer. Vince argues that by agreeing not to prosecute the thief, Smith is guilty of compounding a crime and escapes punishment. Vince, who is quite a ladies' man, is charmed by the naivete of his new secretary, Celia. He attempts to seduce her, but in her innocence, she does not understand the meaning of his actions. She watches admiringly in court as Vince downs a bottle that supposedly contains the poison used by his client to murder someone. Later that evening, Vince lures Celia to his apartment and offers to make her his mistress. By chance, he reveals that his taking poison was a trick as he had his stomach pumped after his client was declared innocent. Celia is disgusted by Vince's lack of ethics and quits her job. She plans to get married ...

More Less

When prosecuting attorney Vincent Day's legal arguments result in the execution of an innocent man, he swears he will never prosecute another case. He successfully defends his new clients, but earns very little money until a friendly bartender points out that the big money comes from defending the guilty, not the innocent. Vince embarks on a new career, winning his cases by showmanship rather than on points of law. When an embezzler begs Vince to save him from prison, Vince convinces the embezzler's employer, Mr. Smith, to accept a partial reinbursement in exchange for keeping the crime a secret from company stockholders. Smith reluctantly agrees but later learns that Vince is taking a large portion of the money as his fee rather than returning it to the company and files a complaint against the lawyer. Vince argues that by agreeing not to prosecute the thief, Smith is guilty of compounding a crime and escapes punishment. Vince, who is quite a ladies' man, is charmed by the naivete of his new secretary, Celia. He attempts to seduce her, but in her innocence, she does not understand the meaning of his actions. She watches admiringly in court as Vince downs a bottle that supposedly contains the poison used by his client to murder someone. Later that evening, Vince lures Celia to his apartment and offers to make her his mistress. By chance, he reveals that his taking poison was a trick as he had his stomach pumped after his client was declared innocent. Celia is disgusted by Vince's lack of ethics and quits her job. She plans to get married and move back to Kentucky. Vince is shamed by her rejection. On the day that Celia is to leave, he offers her a check, which he earned writing an article for a law journal. Celia's departure is delayed, however, when her fiancé Johnny is arrested for stealing bonds. Miss Hickey, Vince's faithful personal secretary, rouses him from a severe hangover to defend Johnny. Vince uses his underworld connections to discover who actually stole the bonds and framed Johnny. He asks the real thief to confess as a favor to him, and when the thief refuses, Vince has him arrested. The underworld is outraged that one of their own would form an alliance with the police, and before Vince can inplement his plans to go straight, they gun him down outside his office.

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

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