The Man Who Talked Too Much

The Man Who Talked Too Much is a 1940 American drama film directed by Vincent Sherman and written by Walter DeLeon and Earl Baldwin; it was a remake of the acclaimed 1932 Warner's Bros. version, The Mouthpiece, which starred Warren William. Starring George Brent, Virginia Bruce, Brenda Marshall, Richard Barthelmess, William Lundigan, George Tobias and John Litel, the film was released by Warner Bros. on July 16, 1940.[1]

The Man Who Talked Too Much
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVincent Sherman
Produced byBryan Foy
Screenplay byWalter DeLeon
Earl Baldwin
StarringGeorge Brent
Virginia Bruce
Brenda Marshall
Richard Barthelmess
William Lundigan
George Tobias
John Litel
Music byHeinz Roemheld
CinematographySidney Hickox
Edited byThomas Pratt
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • July 16, 1940 (1940-07-16)
Running time
76 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Man Who Talked Too Much is the second of three adapted from the 1929 play The Mouthpiece by Frank J. Collins, in which a former prosecutor, disillusioned by sending an innocent man to the electric chair, takes the saying "Better that a hundred guilty men go free than one innocent man suffer the death penalty" one step further by becoming a defense attorney for gangsters and adroitly tightrope walking legal ethics. Collins based his protagonist on Manhattan defense attorney William Joseph Fallon, dubbed "The Great Mouthpiece" in the New York press, who had a short but spectacularly successful career before succumbing to the effects of his own dissoluteness at the age of 41.[2]


Steve Forbes prosecutes a case so convincingly, an innocent man ends up sentenced to die in the electric chair. He quits the district attorney's office and opens a private practice, resulting in racketeer J.B. Roscoe becoming a client.

The money he makes allows Steve to put younger brother Johnny through law school. After a while, Joan Reed, his secretary, and Johnny both become appalled by how unethical Steve has become in his profession. Johnny informs on Roscoe, after which the gangster frames him for a murder. Unable to save him in court, Steve works desperately to prove Johnny's innocence before his brother's execution.



Bosley Crowther of The New York Times said, "Garrulity is a social evil which very few people can abide, and the truth of the matter is that The Man Who Talked Too Much talks too much, too. For a straight gangster picture, which should be fast and concise, it is ponderously slow and windy and as transparent as a goldfish bowl. There are two identically suspenseful sequences, at the beginning and at the end, when innocent men linger painfully in the shadow of the electric chair while people rush around madly to save them. And that's about all the suspense there is."[3]


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