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Illegal (1955)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 15 December 1955 (Italy)
After an overly aggressive district attorney unknowingly sends an innocent man to the chair, he resigns, turns to drinking, and acquires a criminal clientèle.

Director:

Lewis Allen

Writers:

W.R. Burnett (screenplay), James R. Webb (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward G. Robinson ... Victor Scott
Nina Foch ... Ellen Miles
Hugh Marlowe ... Ray Borden
Jayne Mansfield ... Angel O'Hara
Albert Dekker ... Frank Garland
Howard St. John ... E.A. Smith
Ellen Corby ... Miss Hinkel
Edward Platt ... Ralph Ford
Jan Merlin ... Andy Garth
Robert Ellenstein ... Joe Knight
Jay Adler ... Joseph Carter
Henry Kulky ... Taylor
James McCallion ... Allen Parker
Addison Richards ... Steve Harper
Lawrence Dobkin ... Al Carol
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Storyline

Ambitious D.A. Victor Scott zealously prosecutes Ed Clary for a woman's murder. But as Clary walks "the last mile" to the electric chair, Scott receives evidence that exonerates the condemned man. Realizing that he's made a terrible mistake he tries to stop the execution but is too late. Humbled by his grievous misjudgement, Scott resigns as a prosecutor. Entering private practice, he employs the same cunning that made his reputation and draws the attention of mob kingpin, Frank Garland. The mobster succeeds in bribing Scott into representing one of his stooges on a murder rap and Scott, in a grand display of courtroom theatrics, wins the case. But soon Scott finds himself embroiled in dirty mob politics. The situation becomes intolerable when his former protege in the D.A.'s office is charged with a murder that seems to implicate her as an informant to the Garland mob. Can Victor defend the woman he secretly loves and also keep his life? Written by Chris Stone <jstone@bellatlantic.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The 'fixer' took care of everything! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 December 1955 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Ilegal See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The main character is very loosely based on Bill "The Great Mouthpiece" Fallon, one of the great criminal defense attorneys of the 1920s, who successfully defended gambler Arnold Rothstein in the "Black Sox" Fix of the 1919 World Series. See more »

Goofs

When Edward G. Robinson visits Nina Foch after she's been arrested, initially she's resistant, but when he tells her that she faces a murder charge, she breaks down and says, "Oh, Ray" (the name of her dead husband) instead of "Oh, Victor," the name of Edward G. Robinson's character. See more »

Quotes

Allen Parker: Then it's all settled? They won't prosecute me?
Victor Scott: No.
Allen Parker: You're not going to keep all of my $10,000?
Victor Scott: Your $10,000? You stole it; I earned it!
Allen Parker: But that's all I got. You wouldn't take everything I have, would you?
Victor Scott: You can get out of town and keep going before you lose more than money.
See more »

Connections

References Miracle in the Rain (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

Too Marvelous for Words
(uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Jayne Mansfield (dubbed by Bonnie Lou Williams)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Best Training
29 October 2010 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Illegal marks the third time Warner Brothers told this tale of a lawyer's downfall and redemption. It was previously filmed as The Mouthpiece and The Man Who Talked Too Much with Warren William and George Brent playing the role that Edward G. Robinson does here. I've not seen the other two films as yet, but it's hard to imagine either of the other players doing it better. In fact both the other guys would certainly play it differently than Robinson.

Illegal finds Edward G. Robinson cast as a zealous prosecutor who convicts DeForest Kelley wrongly of murder. There's no last minute pardon from the governor however, no verdict set aside, because the evidence that could clear him comes as the switch is being thrown on the electric chair.

Robinson's an ambitious fellow who would like to have been governor or more, but this does set him back on his heels and he takes to drink. But soon enough he realizes he still has the skills so now he can put them to work for the other side.

That by the way is the standard way criminal defense attorneys are born, the best training they can receive can be as Assistant District Attorneys. After a nifty bit of legal legerdemain Robinson winds up working for mobster Albert Dekker. In the meantime his former assistant in the DA's office Nina Foch winds up killing her husband Hugh Marlowe when she discovers he's been a mole there for Dekker.

The legal legerdemain is by far the best bit in the film. Robinson gets James McCallion out of an embezzlement charge and fixes it so that McCallion's boss Howard St. John is left without a leg to stand on.

Jayne Mansfield lends her gravity defying presence to Illegal in one of her earliest films. She plays Dekker's moll and sings Too Marvelous For Words very badly. But as a singer it's not her voice that perks Dekker's interest.

In many ways the lead in this story is a dream role for a player. Every actor worth his salt wants a courtroom drama because of the histrionics involved. Robinson has several courtroom scenes on both sides of the fence and convicts and frees clients by some interesting methods.

In his memoirs Robinson called from 1949 with All My Sons until 1956 in The Ten Commandments as his B picture period. But I'm here to say that while the films weren't big marquee box office, they were pretty much well done dramas that Robinson brought his sense of professionalism to each role. Illegal is one of the best of them.


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