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The Vicious Circle, or The Woman in Brown (June 5, 1955)

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The Vicious Circle

Released on July 21, 1948: When five poor farmers will not sell their land to the wealthy Baron, he accuses them of murder and will do whatever it takes to get them off of the land.

Directed by W. Lee Wilder

The Actors: Conrad Nagel (Karl Nemesch), Fritz Kortner (Joseph Schwartz), Reinhold Schunzel (Baron Arady), Philip Van Zandt (Calomar Balog), Lyle Talbot (Erno Miller), Edwin Maxwell (presiding judge), Frank Ferguson (Stark), Lester Dorr (Andreas Molnar), Michael Mark (Gustav Horney), Belle Mitchell (Mrs. Juliana Horney), Nan Boardman (Mrs. Maria Tamashy), Shirley Kneeland (Clara Tarnashy), Rita Gould (Ethel Mihaly), Eddie LeRoy (Samuel Schwartz), David Alexander (Fisher), Ben Welden (Constable), Nina Hansen (Mrs. Schwartz), Mary Lou Harrington (Anna Tarnashy), Peggy Wynne (Irene Peter / Mrs. Fisher), Robert Cherry (Marten), Sam Bernard (Herman), Rudolph Cameron (Doctor Darosch), Peter Brocco (Dr. Georges Samosch), Christina Vale (Margaret Darosch), Don C. Harvey (Sergeant Fodor), Fred Fox (Judge Russu), Manfred Furst (Baumer), Ruben Wendorf (Weiss), Herman Waldman (Lieber), Paul Baratoff (Taub), Bill Baldwin (George Martin/Samuel Schwartz), Frank Cady (court clerk), Mike Donovan (Fred, card player), Dick Elliott (businessman), Mary Gordon (Mrs. Hogan), Fred Hoose (Mr. Hogan), Roger Neury (third judge), Houseley Stevenson (Professor Barr).


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One of my good friends is a retired Sheriff's Deputy from a small town near Cleveland, Ohio. In fact, he has a disability that makes it necessary for me to be his financial trustee. Donald is a real character, and I never tire of listening to his stories. From flying a B-52 over the jungles of Viet Nam to serving as an officer of the law for an Ohio county, Donald has experienced a unique slice of life in America. Other than listening to Donald's stories from his long career, my exposure to law enforcement and our judicial system is very limited, and I work hard to keep it that way. The one thing that I know about our justice system is that it is far too easy for the well-meaning 'powers that be' in our society to convict innocent persons of crimes that they did not commit. Yes, even today, in the most technologically advanced nations on the earth, it is still far too easy. U.S. law has many safeguards against this, working under the principle that it is better to let a guilty person go free than to convict an innocent one. But it still happens far too often. Even in the hands of otherwise 'good' people, power corrupts, and absolute power often corrupts absolutely. This movie is a fascinating look at justice in Hungary in 1948, and the same script could have been used in the U.S. or any of the other 'civilized' countries of the world. Like all good movies from the golden age of motion pictures, the guilty will eventually pay the price, and the innocent will go free, although their families will be torn apart forever.

In the best traditions of a good Perry Mason thriller, Conrad Nagel is the wise defense lawyer that will expose the corruption of the richest man in the area who intends to take the land of the little people by any means necessary, even accusing them of murder when no murder was committed. Facts are of little concern to the police and attorneys when the rich Baron insists that five land owners be jailed for murder. Pop a really big bowl of white kernel popcorn before you start to watch this one, because it will get your emotions boiling and you'll be munching furiously as it looks like the rich Baron will succeed in getting the land he wants by putting the tenants in prison.

Conrad NagelFrank Ferguson
Conrad Nagel - 1948Frank Ferguson as an older man
Edwin MaxwellFrank Ferguson
Edwin Maxwell, as the presiding judgeFrank Ferguson - as Stark, the prosecuting attorney
Fritz KortnerMichael Mark
Fritz Kortner - Joseph Schwartz the accusedMichael Mark
Reinhold SchunzelConrad Nagel and Philip Van Zandt
Reinhold Schunzel, as Baron AradyConrad Nagel and Michael Mark
Conrad Nagel and Belle MitchellChristina Vale
Conrad Nagel and Belle MitchellChristina Vale
Eddie LeRoyLyle Talbot, Eddie LeRoy and Conrad Nagel
Eddie LeRoyLyle Talbot, Eddie LeRoy and Conrad Nagel
Lyle Talbot and Philip Van ZandtNan Boardman
Lyle Talbot and Philip Van ZandtNan Boardman
Philip Van Zandt and Rienhold Schunzel 
Philip Van Zandt and Reinhold Schunzel