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Criminal Lawyer

Criminal Lawyer(1951)

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Criminal Lawyer (1951)

Though he had once been a top tier star at Warner Brothers - so valued by the studio that he was granted preferential billing over James Cagney in Ceiling Zero... until Cagney threatened to sue - and, later, RKO Radio Pictures, Pat O'Brien found himself inexplicably under-employed by 1950 and working more often than not with independent producers on low budget pictures before trying his luck in the new medium of television. In the Columbia Pictures programmer Criminal Lawyer (1951), O'Brien plays a successful veteran defense attorney whose client roster is culled from the ranks of the underworld... shady figures whose freedom he assures through an indefensible combination of sleaze and legalese. Denied a judgeship because of his reputation, O'Brien is ready to cash it all in until he is asked to defend the son (Darryl Hickman) of a respected attorney whose brother-in-law had been instrumental in blocking his judicial appointment. Director Seymour Friedman cut his teeth as an AD on the set of many a Columbia B-picture, among them entries in the "Lone Wolf" and "Crime Doctor" series, before being given the helm of the studio's "Boston Blackie" whodunits. Friedman surrounds O'Brien with a supporting cast of familiar faces, from leading lady Jane Wyatt and a pre-Gunsmoke Amanda Blake to reliable heavies Mike Mazurki, Mickey Knox, and Douglas Fowley, as well as the always welcome Charles Lane.

By Richard Harland Smith

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