UC Berkeley Library

Lawyers & the Legal Process in Film

God on Trial(TV, 2008)

Directed by Andy DeEmmony. Cast: Anthony Sher, Stellan Skarsgard, Stephen Dillane, Dominic Cooper, Eddie Marsan, Rupert Graves, Jack Shepherd. Following the harrowing ritual of selection for death or hard labor, a group of new inmates unsure of their appointed fates begins asking how God could allow for so much suffering. Impulsively, the men decide to put God on trial for abandoning His chosen people. Amid the outside sounds of prisoners being marched to the gas chamber, the trial unfolds.


Directed by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey. Cast: James Franco, Jon Hamm, Mary Louise Parker, David Strathairn, Jeff Daniels, Bob Balaban, Alessandro Nivola, Treat Williams. In this drama Allen Ginsberg recounts the road trips, love affairs, and search for personal liberation that led to the most timeless, electrifying, and controversial work of his career.

I Am the Law (1938)

Directed by Alexander Hall. Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Barbara O'Neil, John Beal, Wendy Barrie, Otto Kruger, Arthur Loft, Marc Lawrence. A dynamic law professor is drafted by a civic leader to put an end to the city's organized-crime activity. When the gangsters infiltrate his staff, he recruits his law students to form an army of law enforcers. Based on the magazine serial Tracking New York's crime barons by Fred Allhoff. 83 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

I Confess (1953)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Cast: Karl Malden, Anne Baxter, Montgomery Clift, Brian Aherne, O.E. Hasse. A priest hears a murderer's confession and is plunged into peril, for circumstantial evidence and eyewitness accounts point to a priest as the killer. The Sacrament of Penance forbids him to reveal what he knows. As calamity and coincidence conspire to paint him into a hopeless corner it becomes the priest who must confess his own human frailty. 95 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

I Want To Live!(1958)

Directed by Robert Wise. Cast: Cast: Susan Hayward (Barbara Graham), Simon Oakland, Virginia Vincent, Theodore Bikel, Wesley Lau, Philip Coolidge, Lou Krugman, James Philbrook, Gage Clark, John Marley, Marion Marshall. Based on true events tells the dramatic story of the life of a "B-Girl," Barbara Graham, a vagrant prostitute and fast-living party girl, which led to a sensational murder trial and afterwards, her execution in the gas chamber despite growing doubts about her guilt. The background music is made up in its entirety of progressive jazz.

Illegal (1955)

Directed by Lewis Allen. Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch, Hugh Marlowe, Jayne Mansfield. Ambitious D.A. Victor Scott zealously prosecutes Ed Clary for a woman's murder. But as Clary walks to the electric chair, Scott receives evidence that exonerates the condemned man. Realizing that he's made a terrible mistake he tries to stop the execution, but is too late. Scott resigns as a prosecutor and enters private practice. He draws the attention of mob kingpin Frank Garland.

In the Name of the Father (Ireland / UK, 1993)

Directed by Jim Sheridan. Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Terry George and Jim Sheridan. The fact-based story of Gerry Conlon, a petty thief from Belfast. When he angers the IRA, his father sends him to England where, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, he is accused of a terrorist bombing and forced to confess. He and his father, along with friends of Gerry, are found guilty and sentenced to life in prison as members of the "Guildford Four". Behind bars, Gerry works for 15 years with the help of a dedicated lawyer, to clear their names.

Indictment, the McMartin Trial (TV, 1995)

Directed by Mick Jackson. Cast: James Woods, Mercedes Ruehl, Sada Thompson, Henry Thomas, Shirley Knight, Lolita Davidovich. Fact-based film about the child molestation trial involving the McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach, California. A family dedicated to caring for young children is arrested for child molestation. However, their guilt or innocence is not determined in a court of law. The case lasted for 7 years and both were aquitted after spending years in jail. Denied a speedy trial their guilt was determined by the media and thus making up the minds of a whole country.

Inherit the Wind (1960)

Directed by Stanley Kramer. Cast: Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Dick York, Donna Anderson, Harry Morgan. A historical drama of the so called "Monkey Trial" which pitted attorney Clarence Darrow and the fundamentalist William Jennings Brian in heated courtroom debate. It is set in a small Tennessee town which gained national attention in 1925 when a biology schoolteacher, John T. Scopes, was arrested for violating state law by teaching Darwin's theory of evolution to his students. 108 min.

Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

Directed by Joel Coen. Cast: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer, Edward Herrmann, Paul Adelstein, Richard Jenkins, Billy Bob Thornton. Miles Massey is a high-powered Los Angeles divorce lawyer nearing a midlife crisis. While representing his wealthy client Rex Rexroth, Miles meets his match in Rex's gold-digging wife, Marilyn. He's impressed by her similarly heartless ways of using marriage to fuel an expensive lifestyle, but Miles still manages to defeat her in court.