GenreDrama Running time1h 22m CountryUnited States
Release date1958 WriterMorton S. Fine (screenplay), David Friedkin (screenplay), Samuel Grafton (story), Edith Grafton (story) ScreenplayMorton Fine, David Friedkin CastDean Jones (Zachary Davis), Joan O'Brien (Mary Judson), Thomas Mitchell (Mayor Dick Williston), John Smith (Bill Reeves), Walter Abel (Prof. Roger Bowden), Anne Seymour (Matilda Iler) Similar moviesProof, Let's Be Cops, Wonder Boys, Cashback, 21, Good Will Hunting
TaglineThe Girl Who Loves The Guy The Whole Town Hates!
Law school professor Roger Bowdin prepares his seniors for their yearly "mock trial," but star student Zachary Davis persists in wanting something more than the usual fake case. He gets the professor to agree to have the aspiring lawyers investigate the town itself, then put it on trial for anything they happen to find.
Good-natured mayor Dick Williston goes along with the project when the professor approaches him about it, happy to cooperate with the class. The overzealous Zach begins to concern girlfriend Mary Judson, his roommate Bill Reeves and others with the way he begins digging up potential controversies and scandals. His father having once been incarcerated for corruption in another town, Zach may have a personal vendetta in trying to implicate others.
On the first day of the trial, with Mary assisting him as prosecuting attorney, Bill as jury foreman and the professor as presiding judge, Zach aggressively goes after the mayor with a number of unsubstantiated charges. When he brings up a potential tax malfeasance involving misappropriated funds, the popular mayor refuses to continue. Zach is promptly shunned in town, fired from his job and asked to leave by his landlady. A farmer, Al Rees, confronts him on the street, implying that Zach doesn't know what he's doing.
The headstrong Zach refuses to relent, even when Mary points out that she wants to keep living in this town after they marry. Returning to the witness stand, the mayor explains how funds were used temporarily to keep farmers and other homeowners from losing their properties, with all funds later being replaced. Zach, ashamed by his aggressive behavior, intends to leave town, but the professor urges Mary to go after Zach and bring him back.
Dean Jones as Zach Davis
Joan O'Brien as Mary Judson
Walter Abel as Prof. Bowdin
Thomas Mitchell as Mayor Williston
Royal Dano as Al Lees
According to MGM records the movie earned $175,000 in the US and Canada and $150,000 elsewhere, making a loss to the studio of $270,000.