Counsellor at Law - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Counsellor at Law Reviews

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February 1, 2015
imagine my surprise to find a movie I hadn't seen from my fave old Hollywood director and its a precode gem= double happiness!!
November 18, 2012
A film which makes great use of its setting, with the action taking place during the course of a day and entirely in the attorney's office which is populated by colourful personages. John Barrymore's pivotal performance as the attorney is a great character study, while the fast paced dialogue makes the story move at an exciting pace.
September 9, 2012
I adore Barrymore in this film
½ January 10, 2011
another early drama from the master wyler one my fave directors
February 20, 2010
John Barrymore gives an amazing performance. This is one of his finest roles. The entire cast actually is quite good. Great pace, very well written with nicely developed characters. Very skillfully combines humor and heavy drama, thanks to William Wyler's superb direction.
January 1, 2008
Well written by Elmer Riuce and very well directed by William Wyler. best of all is Barrymore's performance as a Jewish lawyer from the lower east side. An antique, yes, but very worth the attention.
December 23, 2007
There are some brilliant moments in this pre-code talkie, but all in all it's quite creaky and stagebound. Unfortunate.
December 12, 2007
This movie is set in an office in the Empire State Building. This is never actually important to the plot. However, the building was two years old when the movie came out--and presumably less than that when the play did!--and so had the advantage of novelty. Clearly, everything was very [i]modern[/i] if it happened in the Empire State Building.

John Barrymore plays George Simon, now a rich and powerful attorney who grew up poor. (The movie summary on IMDB, practically the only supplemental information they have for this film, says he's Jewish, but I missed it.) He has married well. He is generally successful in his cases; he works a wide range of them, apparently preferring not to focus on any one branch of the law like a normal big-city lawyer. We see a client he's gotten off for murder. We see him interact with a woman from the Old Neighbourhood, who needs help with her wild anarchist son.

And we see him deal with the aftermath of having faked an alibi for an old client. Obviously, the client cannot be retried for the crime; that would be double jeopardy. However, it is really, really not good for a lawyer to do that. The Bar Association takes a dim view of it, as does, you know, the law. Obstruction of justice and suborning perjury, they call it. Jack McCoy would shout at him. Then again, Jack McCoy shouts at [i]everyone[/i], so that doesn't mean much.

I didn't really get into this movie much. I can't fault Barrymore for it; I can't fault William Wyler, the director. I think it must be the script. There is one moment of passion--where the anarchist (Harry Becker, played by Vincent Sherman, himself investigated by HUAC) criticizes George Simon for abandoning his roots to be the kind of lawyer who has an office in the Empire State Building. However, even when Simon is about to hurl himself out his office window, he doesn't seem all that worked up about anything. His wife leaves for Europe until he sorts out his problems; he doesn't care.

He does, it seems, care about his work. The needs of a client are what drive him away from that window. Perhaps that's the point. It would be nice to believe there was one.
½ July 20, 2007
For a while after the movies finally learned how to talk, it seemed like they'd never shut up. We watched this strange hyperactive yakfest until the DVD crapped out, gave up, and then pieced together the obvious ending from the IMDB.
September 28, 2005
John Barrymore gives an amazing performance. This is one of his finest roles. The entire cast actually is quite good. Great pace, very well written with nicely developed characters. Very skillfully combines humor and heavy drama, thanks to William Wyler's superb direction.
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