ILLEGAL. Warner Brothers, 1955. Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch, Hugh Marlowe, Jayne Mansfield, Albert Dekker, Howard St. John, Ellen Corby, Edward Platt, Jan Merlin. Screenplay: W. R. Burnett and James R. Webb. Director: Lewis Allen.

   When District Attorney Victor Scott (Edgar G. Robinson) discovers that he’s sent an innocent man to the chair, not only are his ambitions for a higher office (governor) gone up in smoke, but soon after so is his political career altogether. He resigns, finds he can’t make a go of it as an attorney dealing in civil law, and in spite of the concern of his former assistant (Nina Foch), begins spending more time in bars than he does practicing law.

   But as chance would have it, Scott discovers that his skills in the courtroom on one side are just as good on the other, and soon the money is rolling in as one of the best defense attorneys around, with some of his performances on behalf of his clients putting to shame even the wildest ever dreamed up by the previous master of them all, Perry Mason.

   This attracts the attention of not only the local crime boss but the new D.A., who suspects an inside man is leaking information out of his office. This leads in turn to Nina Foch’s character being accused of murdering… Well, it is complicated, but to the screenwriters’ credit, the story is clearly presented from beginning to end, perhaps to the extent of being at times a little too obvious.

   This is Edgar G. Robinson’s role all the way. The triumphs and failures of the character he plays need someone with a super-sized sense of the extravaganza, and Robinson is just the person to do the job. The rest of players are mere moths flitting around his constant flame.

   Save, just maybe, Jayne Mansfield’s character, a wasp-waisted singer and live-in companion for the aforementioned crime boss makes her a perfect witness on the stand, her breathy whisper-like Marilyn Monroe voice making everyone in the courtroom sit up and take notice.