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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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Stars: Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell
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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

Jayne Mansfield's vocals are dubbed by Bonnie Lou Williams. See more »

Goofs

When Edward G. Robinson visits Nina Foch after she's been arrested, initially she's resistant, but when he tells her that she faces a murder charge, she breaks down and says, "Oh, Ray" (the name of her dead husband) instead of "Oh, Victor," the name of Edward G. Robinson's character. See more »

Quotes

Frank Garland: I want you to know, Victor, that you'll be very well paid for this case, whichever way it turns out.
See more »

Connections

References Miracle in the Rain (1956) 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

 
A Clever Man and a Wrong Move
24 October 2011 | by rpvanderlindenSee all my reviews

"Illegal" is an intelligent and nimble little crackerjack of a crime thriller starring Edward G. Robinson as a D.A who's maybe a little too smart - and smart-assed - for his own good. He's ruthless because his job requires him to be. He wins cases. That's what he's paid for. He's quick of wit and tongue. He's ambitious, canny and - technically, at least - in compliance with the law. He's, at heart, a good man, and he's in the public eye, but he's not universally well-liked. One day, he sends the wrong man to the chair. And he comes undone.

This sets in motion a plot that winds and twists without becoming outlandish. The picture, which doesn't strike me as a "noir", moves at a nice clip, each of the broad spectrum of characters is painted with a defining brush stroke, and the dialogue is efficient and snappy. It's the kind of movie that hooks you and hooks you good. It did me.

"Illegal" is, above all, an Edward G. Robinson picture. It doesn't seem like a star vehicle. Robinson shares the screen with everyone, yet he is such a forceful presence and creates such a complex and complicated character, sympathetic yet warped, you search him out in every scene. You want to watch him. He's magnetic. I'm becoming a real Edward G. Robinson fan on the strength of his 40's and 50's films alone, some of them comic reminders of his earlier gangster persona. He's as good in this movie as he is in "Scarlet Street", which I saw recently for the first time and which, well... kinda sorta blew my mind. I've lived a little and can recognize the truths that some of these lively, well-written B-movies shine a light on.


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