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Drama - Court Room

The Verdict (1982)

Duration2h 9m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: R
Source of storyA screenplay based on a novel by Barry Reed
DirectorSidney Lumet
Writers/ScriptDavid Mamet
StarringPaul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason, Milo O’Shea, Tobin Bell, Bruce Willis
IMDb Rating7.7 by 35,060 people

Elevator Pitch: Frank Galvin is a brilliant but flawed lawyer who has become a drunken ambulance chaser. His friend lawyer, Mickey Morrissey, gets him a case of a medical negligence which will result in him getting a third of a $210,00 payout, but he goes to hospital and sees the case, a young woman in a vegitative state, and instead decides to go for an in court settlement. The hospital has hired a big firm to take him on, and when his expert witness disappears his plans begin to fall apart.

Content: It implied that sex takes place between Frank and Laura, the woman he meets in a bar, but no nudity. However a lot of drinking and smoking. Frank goes to the hospital and thereafter sobers up and gets on the case. We see him setting things up, and also we see the opposition who are heavweights coaching their witnesses, and here is a small spoiler. Laura is working for the other side. Once the judge begins to become involved we see that the cards are stacked against Frank. There is quite a bit of time spent in the court.

A View: Although I am a fan of a number of actors (male and female) Paul Newman is my cinematic hero, so for me he can do no wrong. Amongst the five nominations of this film at the Oscars, he was nominated for “Best Actor”, but did not win. There is a wonderful exchange between the James Mason and Charlotte Rampling characters. He tells an anecdote. “My boss asked how I had done, and I said, I have done my best. He replied you are not paid to do your best, you are paid to win”. This pretty well sums up the movie. It is a slightly odd film for the British, whose judges are a lot more remote than American ones, but still worth the cost of a download.

Additional Info: The film spent some time in development hell, and the David Mamet script was discarded in favour of others, until Sidney Lumet was hired, and he reinstated it. 

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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