|Shatner and McQueen.|
|Walter Preston (Bellamy) plays to the jury.|
The best scenes in "The Defender" occur not in the courtroom, but in the back rooms and hallways of the justice building. Father and son each state their point of view with conviction. It's clear that Walter will do what's expected of him, but that he will stop short of exploiting all his skills as a lawyer. As for Kenneth, his win-at-all-costs approach is constrained by the law. He's willing to violate courtroom etiquette, but understands his legal boundaries.
The discussions between the Walter and Kenneth evolve into arguments that also reveal the frailty of their own relationship: Walter as a father who spent more time with clients than with his son; Kenneth as a son who aspired to be like his father without understanding why. Yet, despite their emotional confrontations, it's a key out-of-court exchange between Walter and the prosecuting attorney that changes the outcome of the case.
|Vivian Nathan as McQueen's mother.|
Writer Reginald Rose, the son of a lawyer, is best known for 12 Angry Men and the TV series The Defenders. Rose originally wrote "12 Angry Men" as a teleplay for Studio One in 1954. He later adapted it for the film version directed by Sidney Lumet and earned an Academy Award nomination (his screenplay lost to The Bridge on the River Kwai).
|Marshall and Reed in the TV series.|
In 1997, Rose developed a reworking of The Defenders, with Beau Bridges and Martha Plimpton as Walter Preston's grandchildren. The series was cancelled when E.G. Marshall died after completion of the second episode.Clips from the 1961-65 series have appeared on Boston Legal and Mad Men.
Amazingly, the original Defenders TV series is still unavailable on DVD. While awaiting its eventual release, one can still enjoy its origin on Studio One. "The Defender" does for attorneys what 12 Angry Men did for juries--and that is high praise.