Counsellor at Law (1933) starring John Barrymore, Doris Kenyon, Melvyn Douglas, Bebe Daniels
Product Description of Counsellor at Law
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
Cast of characters
- John Barrymore (Grand Hotel, Dinner at Eight) … George Simon. The Jewish lawyer, who climbed up the hard way.
- Bebe Daniels (42nd Street) … Regina ‘Rexy’ Gordon. George’s secretary. She’s in love with him, but he’s oblivious to that.
- Doris Kenyon (The Road to Singapore) … Cora Simon. George’s wife, who feels that she’s married beneath herself. She goes to Europe, when the scandal erupts.
- Isabel Jewell (Marked Woman, The Leopard Man) … Bessie Green
- Melvyn Douglas (Ninotchka, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House) … Roy Darwin
- Onslow Stevens (Them!) … John P. Tedesco
- Thelma Todd (Horse Feathers) … Lillian La Rue
- Clara Langsner … Lena Simon
- John Hammond Dailey … Charlie McFadden
- Mayo Methot (Market Woman) … Zedorah Chapman
- Robert Gordon … Henry Susskind