CAREER WOMAN is a moderately entertaining "B" movie from 20th Century-Fox, chiefly notable for the opportunity to enjoy the young Claire Trevor in her 20th film role.
Trevor plays the title role as Carroll Aiken, a young attorney who has yet to try her first case. When she returns to her hometown after graduation she soon finds herself defending Gracie Clay (Isabel Jewell, seen below left), who has been unjustly accused of murdering her abusive father (Charles Middleton). Unfortunately the citizens of Carroll's town, other than her uncle (Gene Lockhart), are far from supportive of the idea of a female lawyer.
Barry Conant (Michael Whalen), a flashy and manipulative big-city lawyer, had been intrigued upon recently meeting Carroll and shows up in town as well. When Carroll flounders he becomes involved in the case, but his courtroom theatrics and disdain for the townspeople lead to potentially disastrous results. Or maybe not...
Trevor is appealing, although her character's courtroom performance is initially overly emotional and frantic in her responses, but that can be chalked up to the Carroll's learning curve. Otherwise Carroll is an admirable and generous young woman, and it's a pleasure watching Trevor in the performance.
I'm not familiar with Michael Whalen's work but can't honestly say I cared much for him. Part of that is doubtless due to his obnoxious character, but he's not very memorable. (You want to talk memorable, the courtroom in which he performs his opening scene was unlike any courtroom set I've ever seen, a real "wow.") Hopefully I'll see him in other films in the future so I can more fairly assess my opinion of him. He made at least two other films with Trevor, TIME OUT FOR ROMANCE (1937) and WALKING DOWN BROADWAY (1938)
The movie has a who's who of character actors in supporting roles, including Sterling Holloway, Edward Brophy, El Brendel, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Frank McGlynn Sr., George Meeker, Howard Hickman, Raymond Brown, and Spencer Charters.
The screenplay was by Lamar Trotti, from a story by Gene Fowler. Lewis Seiler directed, with photography shared by Robert Planck and James Van Trees. The film runs 76 minutes.
As I have shared here previously, Claire Trevor (seen at right) was very involved with the theater department at the University of California, Irvine and her family donated millions to the school, which renamed the department the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Her Oscar and Emmy are on display at UCI. A biography with more information is posted at the UCI website.
CAREER WOMAN is available on DVD-R from the Fox Cinema Archives. For the most part, it's a good print. It can be rented from ClassicFlix.