“Get this through your head: it’s not that New York lawyer you have to be afraid of, it’s me.”
When a high-powered lawyer (Jeff Chandler) successfully defends a wealthy philanderer (Phillip Reed) against murder, the local sheriff (Jack Carson) takes offense and plots to charge Chandler with bribery of a juror (Gail Russell).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Courtroom Drama
- Falsely Accused
- Gail Russell Films
- Jack Arnold Films
- Jack Carson Films
- Jeanne Crain Films
- Jeff Chandler Films
This minor but reasonably effective courtroom thriller by B-director Jack Arnold isn’t quite as seedy or melodramatic as its title would imply. Rather than focusing on the titular tattered dress — representing a corrupt client’s supposed motivation for a crime of passion — the screenplay concerns itself with the cat-and-mouse dynamics between rags-to-riches Chandler (a once poor, now highly successful big city lawyer with a reputation for successfully defending guilty clients) and Jack Carson’s duplicitous sheriff, who takes offense at what he sees as a serious breach of both justice and authority in “his” town.
Chandler acquits himself well in the central role, and Gail Russell is, as always, a welcome presence:
— but it’s Carson who really stands out here as an inspired casting choice; he roundly flouts his all-American “good boy” persona and taps into Sheriff Hoak’s depraved but honor-bound morality to create a character we can’t help but feel afraid of.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Jack Carson as Sheriff Hoak
No, but it’s worth a look.