One of the last films directed by the great Elmer Clifton, whose career dates back to the mid-teens and D.W.Griffith, The Judge was also the first production of Ida Lupino’s production company, first called Emerald Productions, later called The Filmmakers.
This is a quirky film which is both hard-boiled and pretentious, raw and artsy. It is also a film that raises as many questions as it answers. Elements are introduced into the story, covered in detail, and then not developed. Dream sequences are introduced, but are unclear. The main character–who is a sleazy defense attorney, NOT a judge–is well-played by Milburn Stone, but his story is not really typical of anyone other than this one oddball character. Why the film is called THE JUDGE, I don’t know. The show begins and ends with a judge pulling out a file from his file cabinet, and talking about what a unique and disturbing case this was. The same judge does rule on an important case in the film, but he is not central–one wonders why the film is not called THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY? While star Milburn Stone and some of the supporting actors give good performances, the doctor and Stone’s wife are both amateurishly played. Also, no scored instrumental music is feature in the film: only avant-garde acapella choral music, and the wire recording of the violin practicing that is used to get the psycho killer to grab a gun, which is used later as supporting music. This gives the film an art-film feel. A few scenes were unclear and required me to rewind the tape and watch them two or three times. The scene where the guy selling the dolls picks someone’s pocket–the guy who later kills a policeman and is blackmailed by Stone–was unclear. Where was that gun coming from? Is this sloppy continuity, or an attempt at being ambiguous? Who knows… When the film ends, somewhat abruptly I might add, the viewer will probably have a number of questions as we did. However, whatever minor flaws I may complain about, The Judge is a unique film experience. Not entirely successful, but unique nonetheless.
1.28GB | 1h 09mn | 720×480 | avi