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Lawyers & the Legal Process in Film

"... And Justice For All" (1979)

Directed by Norman Jewison. Cast: Al Pacino, Jack Warden, John Forsythe, Lee Strasberg, Jeffrey Taylor, Christine Lahti. An idealistic young lawyer is torn between defending a judge accused of raping and battering a young girl - who he knows is guilty - and exposing the corruption of the legal system, jeopardizing his own career. 119 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

12 (Russia, 2007)

Directed by Nikita Mikhalkov. Cast: Sergey Makovetsky, Nikita Mikhalkov, Sergei Garmash, Valentin Gaft, Alexei Petrenko, Yuri Stoyanov, Sergey Gazarov, Mikhail Efremov, Alexei Gorbunov, Sergey Artsbashev, Victor Verzhbitsky, Roman Madyanov, Alexander Adarashian. Set in contemporary Moscow where 12 men must decide the fate of a young man accused of murdering his step-father. Consigned to a makeshift jury room, one by one each man takes center stage to confront, connect, and confess while the accused awaits a verdict and revisits his heartbreaking journey through war in flashbacks. 160 min.

12 Angry Men (1957)

Directed by Sidney Lumet. Cast: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, E. G. Marshall, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Joseph Sweeney, George Voskovec, Robert Webber. Classic courtroom drama depicts a jury of men who must decide the fate of a teenage boy who has murdered his abusive father. The jurors are from all walks of life, and bring with them their own opinions, prejudices, fears, and personal demons. 97 min.

A Civil Action (1998)

Director, Steven Zallian. Cast: John Travolta, Robert Duvall, John Lithgow,William H. Macy, Stephen Fry, James Gandolfini, Dan Hedaya, Zeljko Ivanek, Kathleen Quinlan, Tony Shalhoub. In this fact-based drama a high-priced personal injury attorney represents eight families whose children died of leukemia after large corporations let toxic waste leak into the water supply in the Boston area. The case becomes an epic legal battle in which he puts his career, reputation and all that he owns on the line for the rights of his clients. 115 min.

A Few Good Men (1992)

Directed by Rob Reiner. Cast: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Pollak, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon. A brash Navy lawyer is teamed with a gung-ho litigator in a politically-explosive murder case. Charged with defending two Marines accused of killing a fellow soldier, they are confronted with complex issues of loyalty and honor - and the dangerous difference between following orders and following one's conscience. 138 min.

A Free Soul (1931)

Directed by Clarence Brown. Cast: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Lionel Barrymore, James Gleason, Clark Gable, Lucy Beaumont. In A Free Soul, Lionel Barrymore captured an Oscar for his portrayal of a brilliant alcoholic lawyer Stephen Ashe, who successfully defends dashing gangster Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable) on a murder charge only to find that his headstrong daughter, Jan (Norma Shearer), has fallen in love with his client.

A Man For All Seasons (UK, 1966)

Directed by Fred Zinnemann. Cast: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw,Orson Welles, Susannah York, Nigel Davenport, John Hurt, Corin Redgrave. "Paul Scofield's Oscar- winning performance as Sir Thomas More, the Tudor-era judge made chancellor of England. He is caught in the political struggle involving Henry VIII's decision to defy the Roman Catholic Church and divorce his wife to wed Anne Boleyn. Lines from playwright Robert Bolt's stirring script are frequently quoted in U.S. court opinions: "I know what's legal, not what's right.

A Short Film About Killing (Krałtki film o zabijaniu) (Poland, 1987)

Director, Krysztof Kieslowski. "A youth randomly, and brutally, murders a taxi-driver. Piotr has just passed his law exams and been admitted to the bar. He is to defend Jacek, the young murderer. There is no evidence for the defence and no apparent motive. Jacek is put on trial, found guilty and executed by hanging. Piotr, after his first case, is leftwith the bitter doubt - does the legal system, in the name of the people, have the right to kill with cold blood?" [IMDB] 81 min.

A Time to Kill (1996)

Directed by Joel Schumacher. Cast: Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Brenda Fricker, Oliver Platt, Charles S. Dutton, Ashley Judd, Patrick McGoohan, Donald Sutherland. A murder trial brings a small Mississippi town's racial tension to the flashpoint. Amid a frenzy of activist marches, Klan terror, media clamor and brutal riots, an unseasoned but idealistic young attorney mounts a stirring courtroom battle for justice. Based on the novel by John Grisham. 150 min.

Adam's Rib (1949)

Director, George Cukor. Cast: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell. A romantic comedy in which husband and wife are lawyers on opposite sides of an attempted murder case. 61 min. Online Access through LFLFC; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
Awards & Honors
National Film Registry Selection

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