Wednesday 12 December 2007

The Women in His Life (1933) George B Seitz

The jury is still out in the Benton case, as our film begins. The always villainous Otto Kruger is the defence counsel, Kent Barringer, and he's a self satisfied slimeball of an attorney who manages to get his client off, even though he knows he was guilty. We're soon given plenty more evidence that he's a peach of a lawyer but he's not much of a human being. In court he's as slick as you could get, winning freedom for the guilty, but he can't do the right things by the right people. The only hint of humanity we get is when he likens himself to the rabbit at the dog track: he always wins but can't ever get out of his little cage.

Luckily for Doris Worthing, whose father is accused of murder, he has a junior partner called Roger McKane, who is as decent as Barringer isn't. Even though Doris helps Barringer win another case, he doesn't want to take hers because it's ordinary, far preferring to head off to Florida with nightclub girl Cathy Watson. Eventually though he gets to look at the details and finds that the victim is the only girl he ever loved and who he's tried to remember through no end of other soulless relationships.

Otto Kruger is in blistering form here, making it hard to really notice anyone else. Ben Lyon is solid but forgettable as Roger McKane, and other supporting actors like Irene Hervey, Isabel Jewell and Una Merkel just don't get enough screen time to really get the opportunity to shine. It's entirely Kruger's show. He goes through a stunning cinematic decline after discovering that the love of his life is dead and goes to truly stunning lengths to avenge her and find redemption. It's hard to talk abot the story or the film though, because it's nigh on impossible to see past Kruger.

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