Portia on Trial
Starring: Frieda Inescort Director: George Nichols Jr.

The life of a crusading female district attorney is chronicled in this Oscar-nominated lost classic.
Portia on Trial
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Format:  DVD-R
sku:  ALP 7618D
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DVD-R Details

  • Run Time: 1 hours, 2 minutes
  • Video: Black & White
  • Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
  • Released: April 28, 2015
  • Originally Released: 1937
  • Label: Alpha Video

Performers, Cast and Crew:

Performer: , , &
Directed by

Description by OLDIES.com:

Portia Merriman is a crusading attorney who specializes in defending women. Her colleagues would never suspect she was once the underage girlfriend of Earle Condon, the son of a powerful newspaper magnate. Earle's father disapproved of their relationship and not only stopped them from getting married, but forbid Portia from seeing their born-out-of-wedlock offspring as well. Years later, Portia has moved on to a successful new career, but is shocked when Earle returns from time abroad with their fully-grown son and a new lover, Elizabeth, in tow. History repeats itself when Earle's father attempts to have his son's girlfriend deported. With no one willing to stand up to the wealthy businessman, Elizabeth goes to the city's crusading female attorney for aid, not realizing her personal connection to the family. Portia must now decide whether or not to take the case, knowing that it may cause her long-lost son to walk out of her life forever.

Though often considered a Poverty Row studio, Republic Pictures decided to go for broke with the big-budget Portia On Trial. Working from an original story by acclaimed novelist Faith Baldwin, screenwriters Gordon Rigby and Cromwell Ormsby crafted a female-centric picture for Helen Gahagan, star of She (1935). When Gahagan chose to leave Hollywood for a career in politics instead, she was replaced by Frieda Inescort. A popular Broadway actress, the Scottish-born Inescort had made her film debut two years prior in The Dark Angel (1935). Despite the storyline's sophisticated pedigree, the film's script was subjected to multiple revisions from the Production Code Administration's Joseph Breen, who objected to its seeming endorsement of "illicit sex." Republic packed the film with an all-star cast, including Walter Abel, Neil Hamilton, Heather Angel, Barbara Pepper, Ruth Donnelly and Leo Gorcey. Both Abel and Pepper were borrowed from RKO for the production. Abel was most likely cast because of his role as a district attorney in Fritz Lang's Fury the previous year. Portia On Trial would be nominated for Best Original Score at the 1938 Academy Awards.

BONUS: The Screen Writer (BW, 1950): The importance of the screenwriter to the studio system is spotlighted in this vintage short subject produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Screenwriters who also direct, like John Huston and Billy Wilder, are featured, as well as ones who go on to become studio heads like Daryl F. Zanuck and Dore Schary.


This product is made-on-demand by the manufacturer using DVD-R recordable media. Almost all DVD players can play DVD-Rs (except for some older models made before 2000) - please consult your owner's manual for formats compatible with your player. These DVD-Rs may not play on all computers or DVD player/recorders. To address this, the manufacturer recommends viewing this product on a DVD player that does not have recording capability.
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Product Info

  • Sales Rank: 16,827
  • UPC: 089218761897
  • Shipping Weight: 0.25/lbs (approx)
  • International Shipping: 1 item

Film Collectors & Archivists: Alpha Video is actively looking for rare and unusual pre-1943 motion pictures, in good condition, from Monogram, PRC, Tiffany, Chesterfield, and other independent studios for release on DVD. We are also interested in TV shows from the early 1950s. Share your passion for films with a large audience. Let us know what you have.
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