Painted Faces (November 20, 1929)
Released on November 20, 1929: (running time 1 hour and 10 minutes) During murder trial jury deliberations, a hold-out juror promises to change his verdict if he can only tell the rest of the jurors a story first.
Produced by John M. Stahl
Directed by Albert S. Rogell
Written by Frances Hyland, Frederic Hatton and Fanny Hatton
The Actors: Joe E. Brown (Hermann and Beppo), Helen Foster (Nancy), Barton Hepburn (Buddy Barton), Dorothy Gulliver (Babe Barnes), Lester Cole (Roderick the Great), Richard Tucker (District Attorney), Purnell Pratt (jury foreman), Mabel Julienne Scott (Mrs. Warren, nervous juror), Clem Beauchamp (jury member), Joseph Belmont (jury member), Alma Bennett (jury member), Allan Cavan (Defense Attorney), William B. Davidson (ringmaster), Russ Dudley (jury member), Dannie Mac Grant (circus spectator), Walter Jerry (jury member), Sojin Kamiyama (cafe owner), Clinton Lyle (jury member), Florence Midgley (jury member), Jack Richardson (stage manager), Howard Truesdale (jury member), Mary Wallace (jury member)
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Merry Christmas, Funny Face
If you ask most movie buffs for their favorite motion picture about murder trial jury room drama they will instantly mention the 1957 motion picture "12 Angry Men" - but trust me . . . after you watch this movie you will never again think of that Henry Fonda movie as the most memorable jury room saga.
It is a week before Christmas and in a local Vaudeville theater a young man and girl comedy team discovers that The Great Roderick is also playing the theater. The man is furious and tells his partner that they must leave at once . . . . you see, the Great Roderick is a skirt-chasing wolf who made advances at the girl when they played the same theater some time ago. The guy vows revenge on the Great Roderick if he even looks cross-eyed at his comedy team partner, and later that night during the show when a gunshot rings out everyone discovers the guy standing with a gun in his hand over the dead body of the Great Roderick.
The trial is quick, and although there were no eyewitnesses to the murder, the jury decision seems to be only a formality. But among the jurors is a timid Dutchman who alone votes ‘not guilty’ - it turns out that he is a circus clown spending the winter down-time in this town, and he is reluctant to send the young man to his death without an eyewitness who actually saw the killing.
After days of arguing and ridiculing the clown and trying to convince him to change his vote, the clown makes a deal with the other eleven jurors . . . If he can tell them a story, at the end of the story he will vote ‘guilty’ along with them if they still feel the same way.
We then flash back and watch as the story unfolds at the circus . . . and at the end of the story . . . when we return to the jury room . . . who is most surprised and amazed at the way the authors crafted this murder mystery? Me, that's who.
After watching many hundreds of old movies from the first days of motion pictures, I got the surprise of my life as this story took a turn that was so unexpected and unique that it blew my mind. This pre-code story would not have been permitted five years later for a couple of reasons, but today, just as in 1929, you will finish the story with a real feeling of . . . ‘Well, I’ll be . . . .I didn’t see that coming!’
What kind of circus story could this old clown have told that would change the mind of every juror and create such a surprise ending? Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and discover it for yourself.
Joe E. Brown in the jury room telling his story
Jury deliberations in Painted Faces
Dorothy Gulliver and Barton Hepburn in Painted Faces
Helen Foster and Joe E. Brown at the Chinese Restaurant
Helen Foster and Joe E. Brown in Painted Faces
Helen Foster as Nancy
Helen Foster is reunited with Joe E. Brown
Jack Richardson and Dorothy Gulliver and Barton Hepburn in Painted Faces
Jack Richardson as the stage manager in Painted Faces
Joe E. Brown and Helen Foster
Joe E. Brown in Painted Faces
Lester Cole and Helen Foster enjoy dinner as Joe E. Brown is sullen
Lester Cole and Helen Foster in the Chinese restaurant
Lester Cole sings and plays his ukelele for Helen Foster
Purnell Pratt and Joe E. Brown in the jury room
Purnell Pratt as the jury foreman