LAWYER MAN is a fast-paced and entertaining pre-Code with William Powell in the title role and Joan Blondell as his loyal secretary.
Powell plays Anton Adam, an attorney on New York's Lower East Side who's invited to be the partner of an uptown attorney (Alan Dinehart) after he wins a big case. Adam lives the high life for a while, then suffers what might be called a career turnaround before rising from the ashes as Assistant District Attorney.
The story isn't riveting in and of itself, but the fun is in the journey, with Powell, Blondell, and a terrific cast.
It's the kind of movie where a man eating lunch with Blondell is Sterling Holloway, where Jean Muir is a secretary and Roscoe Karns is a reporter, and where two hired guns planning to threaten Powell are played by Allen Jenkins and Jack LaRue; in one of the movie's neatest turnarounds, the two men end up having breakfast with Powell and joining his side.
David Landau is terrific as a bigtime crooked party boss who can't help admiring Powell and his guts, putting up with his insults with a laughing shake of the head; it's a very unstereotypical character, and I enjoyed him a great deal. He must be the most laid-back mobster type in movie history. The film also stars Helen Vinson and Claire Dodd.
Blondell, mooning over Powell with her big eyes, is cute, though I never really felt anything more between them than deep friendship, and the film treads lightly on the subject of their relationship as the film comes to a close.
The movie was directed by William Dieterle. This was the next-to-last film shot by Robert Kurrle, who was 42 when he passed on in October 1932. The movie runs 72 minutes.
LAWYER MAN is part of the four-film pre-Code collection Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 4, from the Warner Archive.
LAWYER MAN will be shown on Turner Classic Movies on Monday, April 8, 2013. The trailer is on the TCM website.