Trial (1955 film)
|Directed by||Mark Robson|
|Written by||Don Mankiewicz|
|Music by||Daniele Amfitheatrof|
|Cinematography||Robert L. Surtees|
|Edited by||Albert Akst|
Trial is a 1955 American film directed by Mark Robson based on the novel written by Don Mankiewicz. It stars Glenn Ford, Dorothy McGuire, Arthur Kennedy, and Juano Hernandez. It is about a Mexican boy accused of rape and murder; originally victimized by prejudiced accusers, he becomes a pawn of his communist defender, whose propaganda purposes would be best served by a verdict of guilty.
Angel Chavez (Rafael Campos) is a Mexican American who lives in the small California town of San Juno. During an annual event called Bass Night held at the town beach, he wanders onto the beach, off-limits to Mexican Americans. There he meets a non-Hispanic girl from his high school class. After she suffers a heart attack and dies, Angel is arrested and charged with murder.
At the state university, a law professor, David Blake (Glenn Ford), is told he can no longer teach because he has never appeared in court to defend a client. Blake asks if he would be able to teach in the fall semester if he finds work with a law firm for the summer and gets courtroom experience. The dean agrees and Blake finds work at a small law firm run by Bernard Castle (Arthur Kennedy). Castle wants to defend Angel and agrees to hire Blake to handle the case. Castle and Angel's mother (Katy Jurado) travel to New York City to raise money to defend Angel. Castle leaves his law clerk Abbe Nyle (Dorothy McGuire) to help Blake, and they fall in love.
During the selection of the jury, Blake is called to New York to join Castle at a rally. Blake discovers that Castle is a leader of a Communist group, and is using Blake as a propaganda tool to raise funds and rally the group's membership. Blake is insulted by being betrayed by Castle but returns to San Juno to see the trial through to the end and represent Angel's interests.
Castle returns at the end of the trial and forces Blake to put the young Chavez on the stand to testify. Blake realizes that Castle wants Chavez be subjected to a harsh cross-examination that will ensure his conviction. Castle will be able to better utilize Chavez's case as a fundraising tool for the Communist Party if Chavez is found guilty and made a martyr through his execution. Blake remains on the case to attempt to protect Chavez as best he can, but in the cross-examination goes as poorly as feared and Chavez is found guilty.
After the verdict, Blake is fired as counsel so Castle can control the sentencing of the youth. Blake arrives at the court at the last minute and asks that the court use a technicality, Chavez's status as a minor, to send the boy to juvenile State Industrial School where he will be kept as a ward of the state until he is "reformed" rather than be hanged. The judge agrees to this and the boy is not sentenced to death. Meanwhile, Castle, who has tried to race bait the African-American judge (Juano Hernandez) during the sentencing, is found in contempt of court and sentenced to 30 days in the County jail. Blake and Nyle leave the court together.
According to MGM records the film earned $2,312,000 in the US and Canada and $993,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $518,000.
Awards and nominations
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.