For Reel

The Law in Her Hands (1936)
March 30, 2016, 4:45 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William Clemens
3 Stars
The Law in Her HandsThis unusual Warner Brothers programmer is full of Hollywood’s worst moralizing tendencies regarding women in the workplace, but the journey getting to the condescending finale offers some unexpected surprises. For starters, The Law in Her Hands discusses the world of law as one in which one needs to be craftier than their opponent, and not in the sense of using logic, reasoning, and the nature of the laws themselves to do so. The two green female lawyers build their practice by hiring actors and staging photographs—behavior that is not condemned, but viewed as a valid method of serving justice to equally corrupt opponents. That Glenda Farrell is responsible for staging these farces is a huge benefit to the film, bringing her brassy, street smart persona to offset Margaret Lindsay’s very ordinariness. She’s not the only reliable presence from the Warners stock company, with Lyle Talbot effectively playing the gangster that Lindsay comes to work for before taking down. Talbot rarely appeared in supporting roles this significant, and he effectively plays his menacing racketeer as a seductive businessman. Modern audiences will have a hard time stomaching the film’s attitude regarding women (although it shouldn’t be a surprise after similarly themed pictures like Female), but as with many 1930s Hollywood pictures, these revolting endings don’t take away from the fact that the picture involves problem-solving, enormously savvy women who bring about the downfall of an oppressive male thug.

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