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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Illegal (1955)

After it turns out he sent an innocent man (DeForest Kelley) to the electric chair, a District Attorney (Edward G. Robinson) resigns and spirals downward in drink and self pity. When he recovers, he turns to defending criminals until he gets a case that hits close to home. Directed by Lewis Allen (THE UNINVITED), this is a taught little crime melodrama without pretension. Robinson gets to show what a firecracker he is in parts like this: cocky and unethical but you can't help but like him anyway. Some refer to it as film noir but without getting into a definition of what constitutes film noir, I wouldn't define it as such. It's not unlike the gritty little mobster movies Robinson was doing in the 1930s at Warners although Albert Dekker has the role Robinson would have played back then. So it's fitting that the underscore was composed by Max Steiner. I wasn't thrilled with the ambiguous ending where we we're not allowed to see Robinson's fate. With Nina Foch, Jayne Mansfield, Hugh Marlowe, Jay Adler, Edward Platt, Ellen Corby and Howard St. John.  

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