The Nuisance

Overview

J. Phineas Stevens (Lee Tracy) is a personal injury lawyer whose practice has become a nightmare to any number of defendants, most notably the local streetcar company that handles transportation for his city. Between his steel-trap brain and machine-gun style delivery in court, and the machinations of his friend and expert witness Dr. Prescott (Frank Morgan), they've cost the company tens of thousands of dollars, with no end in sight. The corporation's lead counsel, Calhoun (John Miljan), decides to fight Stevens...
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Note: This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media. This disc is expected to play back in DVD Video "play only" devices and may not play back in other DVD devices including recorders and PC drives.

Overview

J. Phineas Stevens (Lee Tracy) is a personal injury lawyer whose practice has become a nightmare to any number of defendants, most notably the local streetcar company that handles transportation for his city. Between his steel-trap brain and machine-gun style delivery in court, and the machinations of his friend and expert witness Dr. Prescott (Frank Morgan), they've cost the company tens of thousands of dollars, with no end in sight. The corporation's lead counsel, Calhoun (John Miljan), decides to fight Stevens with his own tactics, setting him up by planting investigator Dorothy Mason (Madge Evans) in his midst, as a supposed injury victim. She's successful at beguiling Stevens, and gets enough on him to accidentally bring about the death of the one man he trusts -- and then she finds out that he's not solely the grasping mercenary that she thought he was; that he has an admirable side, as well; and that if he's gotten too good at gouging his opponents in court, it's partly the fault of Calhoun. Her second thoughts about her assignment set off a courtroom doneybrook, getting Stevens off the hook and Dorothy tossed into jail. And that sets Stevens after the streetcar company and Calhoun with a vengeance, and this time it's personal. With his best men, including inveterate conman "Floppy Phil" (Charles Butterworth), working for a cause and not just cash, it looks like Armageddon for the streetcar company and Calhoun, who won't budge an inch.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
For the first half of The Nuisance, Lee Tracy's whirlwind performance as J. Phineas Stevens, a fierce, grasping personal injury lawyer, drives the movie along like a tornado sweeping across the screen -- his central character is an amoral, greedy, at times cruel (and unknowingly so) force of corruption that one still can't help but admire for his audacity and charisma. And Jack Conway's smooth direction and the lean, knowingly cynical script and story (the work of Howard Emmet Rogers, Sam and Bella Spewack, and Chandler Sprague) give Tracy a wonderfully clear canvas to work across for the brisk first 40 minutes. And then, suddenly, the movie shifts gears into something more serious, as the deceptions by all concerned lead to the death of a key character, an event that forces Tracy's shyster lawyer reveals his true self, and how he got to be the devious, grasping figure he's become. But having established that new element -- and very convincingly so -- rather than pulling back on the comedy or the rapid-fire plot developments and pacing, The Nuisance goes right on at the same clip in the second half, just as zany and breathless as the first. The difference in the second half is that the characters all have motivations that make the action resonate even more strongly, along with the romance and the internal conflicts driving the central character. This is all a very tall order for an 83 minute comedy to fill, but The Nuisance does it, mostly by virtue of Tracy's energy and surprising range, with some excellent support by Madge Evans, Frank Morgan, John Miljan, and, in a mercilessly scene-stealing supporting role, Charles Butterworth.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/29/2013
  • UPC: 883316895719
  • Original Release: 1933
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: Pan & Scan
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:23:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 46,657

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lee Tracy Joe Phineas Stevens
Madge Evans Dorothy Mason
Frank Morgan Dr. Prescott
Charles Butterworth Floppy Phil
John Miljan Calhoun
David Landau Kelley
Greta Meyer Mrs. Mannheimer
Herman Bing Willy
Samuel S. Hinds Beaumont
Sid Saylor Fred
Virginia Cherrill Miss Rutherford
Technical Credits
Jack Conway Director
Bella Cohen Screenwriter
Howard Emmet Rogers Original Story
Bella Spewack Screenwriter
Samuel Spewack Screenwriter
Chandler Sprague Original Story
Frank Sullivan Editor
Gregg Toland Cinematographer
Lawrence Weingarten Producer
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