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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trial (1955)

In a small California beach town, a Mexican youth (Rafael Campos) is arrested for the murder of a 16 year old girl. A law professor (Glenn Ford) attempting to get some criminal trial experience is given the case to handle by the head (Arthur Kennedy in an Oscar nominated performance) of a small law firm. But the trial lawyer finds himself not only fighting the town's racism but the intentional exploitation of his client by his employer for his own political agenda. Earlier in the year, MGM had a critical and box office hit with BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK which dealt with racism against Japanese-Americans during WWII. But it was filmed in Eastman color and CinemaScope and employed some action sequences. TRIAL is a grittier film, shot in B&W and eschewing any thriller aspects. The film fully takes on racism (the judge in the case is black) and both the communist party and House Of Un-American Activities Committee. A lot on its plate, perhaps too much because the ending is unsatisfactory. But the intent is appreciated and for the most part executed admirably. Directed by Mark Robson (PEYTON PLACE). With Dorothy McGuire, John Hodiak, Katy Jurado, Robert Middleton, Elisha Cook, Barry Kelley and John Hoyt. 

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