UC Berkeley Library

Lawyers & the Legal Process in Film

American Tragedy (TV, 2000)

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Cast: Ving Rhames, Ron Silver, Bruno Kirby, Darryl Alan Reed, Nicholas Pryor, Robert LuPone, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Diana LaMar, Sandra Prosper, Clyde Kusatsu, Christopher Plummer. This is the story the public never saw of four high profile attorneys, Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro, Barry Scheck and F. Lee Bailey in the O. J. Simpson murder trial. What started as a cohesive defense team ends up as a fractured and tarnished group of disagreeing attorneys vying for the spotlight and focusing as much on their egos as their defense of Simpson.

Amistad (1998)

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Cast: Morgan Freeman, Nigel Hawthorne, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, David Paymer, Pete Postlethwaite, Stellan Skarsgard. Based on true events, this film chronicles the 1839 revolt on board a slave ship bound for America. When the ship, La Amistad, is recaptured the Black Africans are brought to the United States where they are charged with murder.

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Director, Otto Preminger. Cast: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, George C. Scott. A riverting courtroom drama of rape and premiditated murder. The film pits a humble small-town lawyer against a hardheaded big-city prosecutor. Emotions flare as a jealous army lieutenant pleads innocent to murdering the rapist of his seductive, beautiful wife. Based on the novel by Robert Traver (Main (Gardner) Stacks; Moffitt PS3570.R339 A5 1958) 61 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

Director, Fritz Lang. Cast: Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine, Sidney Blackmer, Arthur Franz, Philip Bourneuf, Edward Binns, Shepperd Strudwick, Robin Raymond, Barbara Nichols. Crusading publisher Austin Spenser wants to prove a point about the insufficiency of circumstantial evidence. Spencer talks his prospective son-in-law Tom Garrett into participating in a hoax, the better to expose the alleged ineptitude of conviction-happy DA.

Body Heat (1981)

Direced by Lawrence Kasdan. Cast: William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, J.A. Preston, Mickey Rourke. A likable, unambitious Florida attorney and his siren-like lover plot to kill her wealthy husband. 113 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Boomerang (1947)

Directed by Elia Kazan. Cast: Dana Andrews, Jane Wyatt, Lee J. Cobb, Cara Williams, Arthur Kennedy. Based on a true story this film noir tells of a prosecutor's fight to prove the innocence of a man accused of a notorious murder. 88 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
See also:Elia Kazan bibliography

Breaker Morant (Australia, 1979)

Directed by Bruce Beresford. Cast: Edward Woodward, Jack Thompson, John Waters, Bryan Brown. Following the brutal death of a British captain in the Boer War in South Africa in 1901, Lt. Harry Morant leads his unit in pursuit of the Boers, attacks their camp, and has a captive executed. Other executions and deaths lead to the arrest and trial of Morant and two other lieutenants in this dramatization based on true events. DVD special features: Documentary, Boer War ; Original 30-second radio spot. 102 min.

Caine Mutiny (1954)

Director: Edward Dmytryk. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray. Suspense builds during Naval trial proceedings against a young lieutenant who relieved his captain of command of the destroyer-minesweeper U.S.S. Caine at the height of a typhoon. Special features: Retrospective documentary: Inside the Caine Mutiny; commentary with Richard Peaąa and Ken Bowser. 125 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
Reviews and articles:

Call Northside 777 (1948)

Directed by Henry Hathaway. Cast: James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, Helen Walker. Acclaimed for its authenticity, realism and suspense, this documentary-style drama is the powerful true story of a newspaper reporter who corrects a miscarriage of justice. Assigned to investigate a murder case, he uncovers evidence indicating that the convicted man is innocent and then convinces the governor to hold a hearing. Based on articles by James P. McGuire. 111 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Cape Fear (1991)

Directed by Martin Scorsese. Cast: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Joe Don Baker, Juliette Lewis. Fourteen years after being imprisoned, psychopath Max Cady emerges with a single-minded mission: to seek revenge on his attorney Sam Bowden. "Martin Scorsese's remake of 'Cape Fear' portrays an attorney's struggle with his own hypocrisy. Attorney Sam Bowden is 'tried' by a former client, Max Cady. Bowden suppressed evidence which might have exonerated Cady.