7.0/10
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40 user 16 critic

Illegal (1955)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 15 December 1955 (Italy)
After an overly aggressive district attorney unknowingly sends an innocent man to the chair, he resigns, turns to drinking, and acquires a criminal clientèle.

Director:

Lewis Allen

Writers:

W.R. Burnett (screenplay), James R. Webb (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward G. Robinson ... Victor Scott
Nina Foch ... Ellen Miles
Hugh Marlowe ... Ray Borden
Jayne Mansfield ... Angel O'Hara
Albert Dekker ... Frank Garland
Howard St. John ... E.A. Smith
Ellen Corby ... Miss Hinkel
Edward Platt ... Ralph Ford
Jan Merlin ... Andy Garth
Robert Ellenstein ... Joe Knight
Jay Adler ... Joseph Carter
Henry Kulky ... Taylor
James McCallion ... Allen Parker
Addison Richards ... Steve Harper
Lawrence Dobkin ... Al Carol
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Storyline

Ambitious D.A. Victor Scott zealously prosecutes Ed Clary for a woman's murder. But as Clary walks "the last mile" to the electric chair, Scott receives evidence that exonerates the condemned man. Realizing that he's made a terrible mistake he tries to stop the execution but is too late. Humbled by his grievous misjudgement, Scott resigns as a prosecutor. Entering private practice, he employs the same cunning that made his reputation and draws the attention of mob kingpin, Frank Garland. The mobster succeeds in bribing Scott into representing one of his stooges on a murder rap and Scott, in a grand display of courtroom theatrics, wins the case. But soon Scott finds himself embroiled in dirty mob politics. The situation becomes intolerable when his former protege in the D.A.'s office is charged with a murder that seems to implicate her as an informant to the Garland mob. Can Victor defend the woman he secretly loves and also keep his life? Written by Chris Stone <jstone@bellatlantic.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He was a guy who marked 100 men for death - until a blonde called 'Angel' O'Hara marked him for life! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 December 1955 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Ilegal See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The main character is very loosely based on Bill "The Great Mouthpiece" Fallon, one of the great criminal defense attorneys of the 1920s, who successfully defended gambler Arnold Rothstein in the "Black Sox" Fix of the 1919 World Series. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the film, the Ford automobile that Victor Scott leaves his meeting with Frank Garland in (with Miss Hinkel at the wheel), has hubcaps that are missing, then appear, and then disappear in subsequent shots as the drive proceeds. See more »

Quotes

Miss Hinkel: [answering the phone] Mr. Scott's office.
[pause]
Miss Hinkel: No, this is not the Safeway Cleaners and Dryers!
[hanging up]
Miss Hinkel: Some idiot wants his pants pressed. Maybe we oughta get a new number.
Victor Scott: Not so fast. We may be pressing pants again.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Mouthpiece (1932) See more »

Soundtracks

Too Marvelous for Words
(uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Jayne Mansfield (dubbed by Bonnie Lou Williams)
See more »

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User Reviews

Entertaining Throwback
15 October 2014 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Shades of the 1930's. It's Robinson and Warner Bros. in b&w, except Eddie's not a thug, instead he's an ex-DA turned gangland lawyer. Seems that as a prosecutor, he got the wrong man electrocuted. Now he's drinking and looking for the big money. Probably, there's an element of self-loathing, explaining why he goes over to the dark side. So, being a Code governed production, some final expiation is in order. On the whole, it's a good script by crime master WR Burnett, though I'm not sure I buy Ray and Ellen's showdown.

Even if he's a ripe 62, Robinson's lost none of his trademark self-assurance. He's as masterful here as a shady attorney as he was back in his gangster salad days. Then too, I'm really glad to see Ellen Corbett (Miss Hinkel) get a bigger role than her usual cleaning lady drudge, while underrated Jan Merlin does his icy bit as hit-man Andy. I'm just sorry we don't get close-ups of Merlin who could sneer with the best of them. Add the commanding Albert Dekker as boss Garland, and a warmer-than-usual Nina Foch as conflicted Ellen, and it's a superb lineup of cast principals. And, oh yes, mustn't overlook an exaggerated Mansfield. I guess her busty blonde was the movie's big concession to 50's fads.

The film may be a b&w throwback, at a time when the screen was turning wide and to color. Nonetheless, the movie succeeds in a way that I think movies are supposed to, namely, as engrossing entertainment, with a number of plot twists.


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