This is a strange flick. A jury foreman stands on principle ("the law is the law; I am but an instrument!') and sentences a woman to death for murder, only to find his own daughter up on a murder charge shortly thereafter (the night of the execution, actually!). It's not clear whether she actually committed he murder but she shows up with the murder weapon and all too eager to confess her crime. The local DA manages to to persuade her, the family, and the viewers that she didn't really commit the crime? Or did she, and he was engaging in psychological subterfuge to ensure that "good people" don't go to the chair for crimes that only those other people commit? Hmmm. It's all rather naive, but this is 1934, and such was the state of budget noire then, especially with unknowns like this Humphrey Bogart dude cast as the "wrong boy" for the the jury foreman's daughter. Where do they get these people anyway? Obviously he had no future in pictures. It's not the worst...
Midnight (AKA Call It Murder) This is a 1934 movie that is a version of a German film, and as such it is assumed that appropriate compensation for differences between the German and American criminal justice systems has been made. The story centers about Edward Weldon, foreman in a contemporary American jury trial in which a young woman [Ellen Saxton] is alleged to have murdered her boyfriend in a crime of passion. The opening scene is the courtroom in which the trial takes place. Because Ellen Saxton has admitted to the court that she took money from the victim after shooting him thus making it appear that the crime was premeditated, she is found guilty of murder in the first degree and is sentenced to death. The trial appears to have been proper and fair in every respect. Any mitigating circumstances were apparently left for appeal and that was inexplicably not done, although late appeals to the warden were attempted to no avail. The foreman’s daughter, Stella...
Bogart had around a dozen films under his belt when appearing in this 1934 movie. By this time, he had already adjusted his mannerism and vocal delivery that would show in his later work.. Although, his on film time was short, he supplied the movie's second most important character. This is a very entertaining story line that also feeds visual enjoyment, if you are into antiques and attractive set decoration. The movie's subject matter is as derisive in the 1930's as it is today.
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