At Least We Know Better Than This!
What a crazy movie! I thought, WOW two woman lawyers (Mary and Dot) setting up a practice--that's pretty cool for 1936! NOT NOT NOT.
First and foremost, no lawyer participated in writing this except as a joke. A racketeer named Legs tosses down a $10,000 retainer (rejected but not permanently) for the services of a brand new lawyer, Mary, who never actually won a case, Asst. D.A. Mitchell tells Mary that the practice of law is full of tricks (and not for women) while he basically excuses a lawyer planting a pint of liquor in the plaintiff's coat pocket to pull-out in Court, shocked, as proof the plaintiff was drunk and at fault himself. After playing tricks and walking the edge of legality, Mary finally gets her morals back when Legs poisons milk of all things, killing 7--and they aren't kidding! It's a joke when Fishcake Fanny pretends to be the crying mom of a defendant, hiding an onion in her purse. And their process server gets steadily more beat-up serving papers--starting with band-aids and a finger splint and moving through assorted bandagesm slings, black eyes and crutches to a wheelchair and a couple of casts.. But they don't joke when Legs shoots A.D.A. Mitchell, only wounding him, then threatens his life and Mary's. It's not funny to hear him tell her law is no place for a woman--the conceited jerk thinks she went through college, law school, the bar and opening a law firm only to marry him and quit to keep house for him. At least now, as awful as things have become, as we watch police and lawyers in Wisconsin and elsewhere plant evidence, abuse clients and use the media to poison potential jury pools, the general public is sophisticated enough to call-out silly tactics such as these and such overt sexism.
This silly movie does pose interesting questions about a lawyer's duty to protect a prosecutor her client threatens (settled law now if not in 1936--yes she has that duty), her liability for playing tricks on a jury (she couldn't misrepresent people or evidence and her partner could lose her license by setting her up to argue facts that are not true), and my favorite, the way she identified her client (who had threatened her life and that of the A.D.A. Mitchell) in a packed courtroom AFTER lying to a police officer that the man with her earlier was the wanted man and then staging a defense based on that falsehood...(unlikely and I am stumped except to say she'd already be under arrest unless she had a lot of connections). Disbarring herself is not only unlikely and stupid, it's not how disbarment works. But her career would be over, that much is certain.
Much too light an approach to a woman lawyer giving up the practice of law to keep house for the Asst. D.A.--she'd go nuts and be looking for a new career in 6 months...I give the marriage 4 months. I hated the entire movie playing right into the stereotypes that women aren't serious about becoming lawyers and developing careers, they are just playing around until they catch a husband. Women do give up careers to raise children, even lawyers on ocassion (and even to care for aging parents or ill spouses), but when they do, they don't do these things lightly--they do them out of tremendous love and it's a very painful loss, not a joke as portrayed here. Even if they quit to devote time to other pursuits, it's difficult to let go of something that required huge sacrifices and carried such a big identity with it. This was just TOO DUMB.
As a reviewer said, Glenda Farrell's character only seems to be there for humor--she never practices law. Says it all.