Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Ladies of the Jury (1932) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Last week I spent three days serving as a juror on a civil trial, so the timing couldn't have been better to watch LADIES OF THE JURY (1932), recently released by the Warner Archive.

Edna May Oliver stars as wealthy Mrs. Livingston Baldwin Crane, who is summoned for jury service in a murder trial and promptly takes over the proceedings.

Mrs. Crane, who is not used to taking no for an answer, constantly interrupts the judge and even directly quizzes the defendant, a young woman named Mrs. Gordon (Jill Esmond).

Mrs. Gordon, a French former chorus girl, is accused of killing her husband. At one point in the trial Mrs. Crane even begins questioning Mrs. Gordon in French because of the delicate subject matter. The exasperated judge (Robert McWade) frequently defers to Mrs. Crane, but he draws the line at testimony in French!

Mrs. Crane is initially the lone "not guilty" vote, but one by one she wins the other jurors to her side. It's sort of an early, more lighthearted version of 12 ANGRY MEN (1957).

Alas, the concept is terrific but the execution leaves much to be desired. I was quite enthused to see this film, as Oliver is perfectly cast in the role, but it alternated between being too silly or too dull. Some of the other jury members are quite odd, yet not very interesting. The movie's saving grace is it's just 63 minutes long!

Jill Esmond, who plays the accused murderess, was married to Laurence Olivier at the time she appeared in this film. The cast also includes Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Roscoe Ates, Ken Murray, Cora Witherspoon, and Florence Lake.

A few years later LADIES OF THE JURY was remade as WE'RE ON THE JURY (1937), starring Helen Broderick. Robert McWade reprised his role as the judge in the remake!

LADIES OF THE JURY was directed by Lowell Sherman and filmed by Jack Mackenzie.

The print of this early '30s film is scratched and faded at certain points but, as is usually the case with Warner Archive DVDs, it's perfectly watchable. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDS and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger KC said...

I was a bit more amused by this than you were, but I agree that it is time to move on once you pass the 60 minute mark! Still, funny little flick. Maybe a bit outdated in the humor department, but it has a sort of weird charm.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Glad to get your take on it! I wonder if it might hit other viewers more strongly than it did me.

I need to try Oliver's Hildegarde Withers mysteries, hoping they work a little better for me.

Best wishes,

9:10 PM  

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