George Simon (played by John Barrymore in a memorable performance) has risen from his poor Jewish immigrant beginnings to become a high-powered lawyer with an office in the Empire State Building. His professional and private lives pass by at breakneck pace, and he hasn’t registered that his blueblood wife Cora (Doris Kenyon) is showing interest in another man, or that his secretary Rexy Gordon (Bebe Daniels) dotes on him.
George is happy to take on any client who pays well, but at the same time hasn’t forgotten where he started and continues to take on hard-luck cases including Harry, a young radical who has been beaten up and arrested for making pro-Communist speeches. Far from showing gratitude to George for getting him out of jail, Harry condemns him for the the way he toadies to “parasites”.
Harry’s comment is shown to ring true almost immediately. George discovers an upper-class rival is trying to get him disbarred for falsifying a witness statement many years before in an effort to help a career criminal get a second chance. Cora reacts to the crisis by abandoning him. It looks as though everything George has worked for and taken pride in is about to be taken away from him…
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