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Thursday, June 6, 2013

SOCIETY LAWYER (1939)

This modest remake of PENTHOUSE/’33, with Walter Pidgeon & Virginia Bruce in for Warner Baxter & Myrna Loy, is a dandy B-pic to come out of M-G-M. The title suggests a courtroom drama, but we’re really closer to Nick & Nora Charles detective territory. Not too surprising with Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett, the team who wrote the THIN MAN series, on the scripts. Pidgeon’s a crack lawyer whose shady clients embarrass his stuffy law firm & his high society fiancée. They both dump him. But when his ex’s new squeeze gets framed for shooting his shady ex, a risk-taking lawyer is just the guy you want on your side. There’s unexpected moxie from helmer Edwin Marin and top tech people like lenser George Folsey and Roger Edens to arrange a nightclub song for Bruce. (She’s a nightclub ‘chanteusey’ who helps Pidgeon solve the case and she even does her own vocalizing.) The comic relief is second-drawer stuff, but you’ve seen worse.

DOUBLE-BILL: See how PENTHOUSE, made in the Pre-Code era, compares with its redo.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Too bad the follow-up film for Pidgeon & Bruce, STRONGER THAN DESIRE/’39, didn’t stick with this set up. And too bad about the titles which should have been reversed.

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