Behind the Green Lights (March 11, 1935)
Released on March 11, 1935: Crime adventure based on the autobiography of New York Police captain Cornelius W. "The Gang Buster" Willemse.
Directed by Christy Cabanne
Written by Cornelius W. Willemse, Colbert Clark and James Gruen.
The Actors: Norman Foster (Detective Lieutenant Dave Britten), Judith Allen (Mary Kennedy), Sidney Blackmer (Raymond Cortell), Purnell Pratt (Detective Lieutenant Jim Kennedy), Theodore von Eltz (John C. Owen), Ford Sterling (Max Shultz, janitor), Kenneth Thomson (Charles T. 'Ritzy' Conrad), Lloyd Whitlock (assistant District Attorney), Edward Hearn (Detective Brewster), Jane Meredith (Mrs. Gorham), Edward Hearn (detective Brewster), Jane Meredith (Mrs. Gorham), Edward Gargan (Moran, policeman), J. Carrol Naish (Sam Dover), John Davidson (Beasley), Hooper Atchley (District Attorney Marsden), Marc Loebell (Manny Spivalo), Fern Emmett (Sarah, cook), John Ince (first judge), Ralph Lewis (second judge, and a lawyer), Harry Bowen ('crooner' cop), Lynton Brent (court clerk), Allan Cavan (Crotell's receptionist), Jack Cheatham (police operator), Steve Clark (court clerk), Harry Harvey (reporter), Warren Jackson (medical examiner), Fred Parker (juror), Dick Rush (desk sergeant), Harry Strang (reporter), Herb Vigran (photographer).
Cops, Robbers . . . and Lawyers
The Hays Office was censoring all movies in 1935, so we know that the bad guys will lose and the good guys must win in the end, but between the opening scene and the final outcome there is a question that still rings in today's world, and there is still no clear-cut black and white answer. Here's the setup for you to decide for yourself where the line between good and evil should rest. We are in the big city, and there are cops and there are gangsters . . . and there are lawyers. Norman Foster, famous actor and later director, is Police Lieutenant Dave Britten, and his girlfriend is lawyer Mary Kennedy, played by Judith Allen. Mary Kennedy is the daughter of a long time big city policeman played by Purnell Pratt. Actor Sidney Blackmer is Raymond Cortell, a high priced famous lawyer who defends criminals, and it turns out that young lawyer Mary Kennedy works for the high profile defender of criminals. What follows is a good cops and robbers and lawyers story, with a kicker for your thoughts. In this story the cop played by Norman Foster uses tricks and schemes to get the bad guys caught and convicted. Now, I'm not talking about illegal tricks . . . just sneaky tricks of deception. His girlfriend gets her first case to defend an accused criminal and she uses a courtroom trick to get her client off Scott free. It is a small case, and we are not terribly concerned whether the guy gets convicted or goes free, so it isn't a big deal. But then comes a robbery and murder case . . . and everyone knows that the guy is guilty . . . even his lawyers. But even though he is obviously guilty, he is entitled to a good and proper legal defense, right? Here is the kicker . . . is it all right for his attorney to use legal tricks of deception to get him acquitted? If the cops can use every trick in the book to convict him, isn't it just as proper for the defense attorney's to use tricks and deception to get him off? Is it all right for bad guys to go free if they can afford lawyers who are smarter and trickier than the cops and District Attorney? Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and drizzle plenty of warm melted butter on it and decide for yourself as you enjoy the show.
Edward Gargan and Norman Foster in Behind the Green Lights
Edward Gargan movie title screen
Ford Sterling, Edward Gargan and Norman Foster
Ford Sterling as Max Schultz in Behind the Green Lights
Ford Sterling movie title screen
Hooper Atchley as District Attorney Marsden
Jack Cheatham as the police radio man
John Davidson and Sidney Blackmer
John Ince as the judge in Behind the Green Lights
Judith Allen and Norman Foster in Behind the Green Lights
Judith Allen and Purnell Pratt
Judith Allen as Mary Kennedy in Behind the Green Lights
Judith Allen movie title screen
Kenneth Thomson movie title screen
Norman Foster and Jane Meredith
Norman Foster and Purnell Pratt
Norman Foster as Lieutenant Dave Britten
Norman Foster and Theodore von Eltz
Norman Foster in Behind the Green Lights
Norman Foster movie title screen
Purnell Pratt and Jack Cheatham
Purnell Pratt movie title screen
Sidney Blackmer as lawyer Raymond Cortell
Sidney Blackmer movie title screen
Theodore von Eltz and Sidney Blackmer
Theodore von Eltz movie title screen