Mr. District Attorney (1947), a B-picture inspired by the popular radio show of the same name (from 1939 to 1953). The 1947 version of Attorney was actually the fourth time the movies tried to start a film franchise based on the radio program; this week’s Forgotten Noir entry is the first go-round for Mr. District Attorney, released by Republic in 1941. The 1941 film was originally going to be just a run-of-the-mill programmer cranked out by the Republic folks, but studio head Herbert J. Yates liked what he watched in the rushes and decided to appropriate a little more fundage to make the picture a “special.”
In From Radio to the Big Screen, Facebook chum Hal Erickson notes: “To that end, [Yates] hired playwright F. Hugh Herbert (Kiss and Tell, The Moon Is Blue) to contribute additional dialogue, which may explain why the witty badinage between O’Keefe and Rice is the best thing in the picture.” Mr. District Attorney is a tol’able little feature, but I disagree with Hal about the screwball comedy aspect involving O’Keefe and Rice; I found their relationship forced, and really—if I wanted to watch an attorney and his romantical escapades I’d put on a rerun of Bachelor Father. I do agree wholeheartedly with Hal when he compares the comedic shenanigans in Attorney to the treatment detective Ellery Queen was receiving at Columbia at that time (with Ralph Bellamy playing the great sleuth for laughs)—neither approach served those gumshoes well.