I’m pretty sure the copy I saw of PORTIA ON TRIAL ( from Free-Classic-Movies.com) is a cut version which is a pity because I liked this film and its leading lady Frieda Inescort.
Frieda plays wealthy lawyer Portia Merriman.  Ruth Donnelly,always great, is Portia’s assistant and friend, Jane.


Frieda Inescort

Frieda Inescort


Walter Abel is very good too,as District Attorney Dan Foster, in love with Portia who is reluctant to marry him.

Portia’s background forms a big part of the story . 17 years earlier, she had a child with Earle Condon (Neil Hamilton), son of a newspaper tycoon,John Condon ( Clarence  Kolb) .

At the time Earle was under age and his father agrees to their marriage only if they have an immediate annulment and Portia gives up her child.

Ruth Donnelly

Ruth Donnelly


17 years on and Earle is killed by his girlfriend Elizabeth (Heather Angel) and Portia defends her.

I was surprised to see this was a Republic  film – not what one usually expects from that studio.

This is Frieda’s film and it is odd that Walter Abel got billing above her in the poster above. They play well together.

Tall,dark and patrician, Frieda Inescort (1901 – 1976) was born in Scotland and came to America in the 1920s,appearing on stage. Her marriage to literary agent Ben Redman lasted till his death in 1961.

She made her film debut in THE DARK ANGEL in 1935. Sadly, by the start of the 1940s she was typecast in matronly,generally unsympathetic roles.

She is probably best known for her memorable portrayal of the haughty Caroline Bingley in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. She had a small part in THE LETTER as the wife of James Stephenson.
And she was one of the Holliday family in Deanna Durbin’s THE AMAZING MRS.HOLLIDAY.

Clarence Kolb,Frieda Inescort

Clarence Kolb,Frieda Inescort

But for a brief period, Frieda had some starring roles and showed what a good actress she was. She starred in CONVICTED WOMAN(1940),again playing a lawyer. Glenn Ford and Lola Lane costarred. And she played opposite Otto Kruger in THE ZERO HOUR (1939).
I liked her too in SHADOW ON THE STAIRS (1941).


Two of her early films I’d like to see are WOMAN DOCTOR (1939) and BEAUTY FOR THE ASKING (1939) in which she costarred with Lucille Ball.

Sadly, Frieda developed multiple sclerosis in the 1960s and died at the Motion Picture Country Home.



Leo Gorcey

Leo Gorcey

In his only scene in Portia On Trial, Leo Gorcey is seen in his prison cell after Portia has pleaded for his execution to be commuted.



Portia on Trial

Portia on Trial

Publicity  shot for Portia On Trial.

Walter Abel, Barbara Pepper ( who does her best impersonation of a Jean Harlow type character), Frieda Inescort,Heather Angel,Anthony Marsh ( who plays the young son of Portia and Earle).



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