"Portia On Trial," the piece de resistance in the program now running at the University, is certainly far from being a good picture; but it does have its interesting points. The story, which once ran in the Ladies Home Journal, is one of Faith Baldwin's most involved accounts of the complications that can befall a simple family. In the ultimate trial, to which the whole picture leads up, we see a Harvard Freshman tensely watching his mother (Frieda Inescort), a beautiful barrister with whom he is hopelessly in love, defend his step-mother (Heather Angel) for the murder of their former husband, while the District Attorney (Walter Abel) does his best to outwit the attorney for the defense, with whom he, too, is hopelessly in love.
"Portia On Trial" is the first important production of Republic Pictures, and should be viewed with indulgence, as should Miss Inescort, a nervous young lady recently imported from the New York stage. The dialogue is crude, and most of the parts are overacted. The film has its good points, but is rather a disappointment.
The companion-picture. "Manhattan Merry-Go-Round," returns to more orthodox lines, and shows a gangster (Leo Carillo) kidnap Ted Louis. Cab Calloway, Kay Thompson, and their respective ensembles (played by themselves) and make them perform in a recording studio which he has just acquired. The various types of modern music are satisfactorily rendered, but the story and dialogue are weak.