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Counsellor at Law


Counsellor at Law  (1933) starring John Barrymore, Doris Kenyon, Melvyn Douglas, Bebe Daniels

Product Description of  Counsellor at Law

In Counsellor at Law,  John Barrymore stars as George Simon, a high-powered attorney who frantically juggles scandals, crimes and crises that pass through the chrome-and glass doors of his art deco office high in the Empire State Building. Balanced on an ethical tightrope, Simon engages in insider trading and bleeds funds from wealthy clients, while tending to the needs of the less fortunate New Yorkers who come from his own working-class (Jewish) background. A political enemy uncovers a past legal indiscretion and begins disbarment proceedings, causing Simon’s socialite wife (Doris Kenyon) to seek comfort in the arms of another man (Melvyn Douglas). With the unflagging support of his faithful secretary (Bebe Daniels), Simon attempts to exercise his legalistic wizardry to defend his reputation and protect those who rely upon him for justice.

Editorial review of Counsellor at Law courtesy of  Amazon.com

Having apprenticed on 15 B-Westerns and melodramas for his uncle Carl Laemmle at Universal, William Wyler signaled his readiness to take a big step up in class with this expertly directed movie about, well, class. John Barrymore gives a crackling performance as a dynamic Manhattan lawyer who’s worked his way to the top, yet still has the hunger of an immigrant Jew who came over in steerage. Seemingly master of all he surveys–his offices are in the Empire State Building!–he suddenly finds himself facing disbarment, and ditching by the elegant WASP wife (Doris Kenyon) who’s always wished he would practice law “like a gentleman” (read “Gentile man”). The entire movie takes place in the legal suite. Such a stagy stratagem (Elmer Rice adapting his own play) usually spells static filmmaking, but Wyler brings off a cinematic tour de force with tensile camerawork, sharp performances, and brilliant set design (Charles D. Hall) that gets great visual excitement out of all the doors, glass walls, and skyscraper windows. The apprenticeship was definitely over. –Richard T. Jameson

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