Sunday, November 27, 2005

Day 19: "Counsellor-at-Law"

Director: William Wyler 1933
The legendary John Barrymore stars in one of his best movie roles as a fast-talking, mostly good-hearted attorney who worked his way from the slums to become New York's most famous litigator. Made in the liberated days of pre-Production Code Hollywood, Barrymore's character triumphs in the end through unscrupulous means, but you're rooting for him from the get-go. Based on a play by Elmer Rice, there's no denying the movie's stage origins; there is only one set--a brilliantly rendered suite of deco offices in what was then the brand-new Empire State Buidling. Wyler gets around the staginess by having the characters talk so quickly and exit and enter at so rapid a pace that you might think Howard Hawks ("His Girl Friday," "Rio Bravo") was the director. For a seventy-two-year-old film, this is damn entertaining.


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