UC Berkeley Library

Lawyers & the Legal Process in Film

Intruder in the Dust (1949)

Directed by Clarence Brown. Cast: David Brian, Claude Jarman, Jr., Juano Hernandez, Porter Hall, Elizabeth Patterson, Charles Kemper, Will Geer. This film is considered one of the most outstanding films about racial tension. It tells the story of a black man in a small Mississippi town who is accused of murdering a white man known to be his adversary. He makes no attempt to defend himself to avoid being lyunched, until a young white boy persuades his lawyer uncle to help find the real killer. Based on the novel by William Faulkner. 87 min.

Jagged Edge (1990)

Directed by Richard Marquand. Cast: Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges, Peter Coyote, Robert Loggia. San Francisco heiress Page Forrester is brutally murdered in her remote beach house. Her husband Jack is devastated by the crime but soon finds himself accused of her murder. He hires lawyer Teddy Barnes to defend him, despite the fact she hasn't handled a criminal case in years. There's a certain chemistry between them and Teddy soon finds herself defending the man she loves. 108 min.

JFK (1991)

Directed by Oliver Stone. Cast: Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Oldman, Michael Rooker, Jay O. Sanders, Sissy Spacek. Director Oliver Stone seamlessly blends archival film with acted sequences in his version of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which alleges that there was a massive plot and cover-up surrounding JFK's death. Based on the books "On the trail of the assassins" by Jim Garrison and "Crossfire: the plot that killed Kennedy" by Jim Marrs. 209 min.

Judge Priest (1934)

Directed by John Ford. Cast: Will Rogers, Tom Brown, Anita Louise, Henry B. Walthall, David Landau, Rochelle Hudson, Stepin Fetchit, Hattie McDaniel. A small town Judge William "Billy" Priest in the old South stirs up the place with stinging humor and common sense observances as he tangles with prejudices and civil injustices. 80 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database Reviews and articles: Perez, Gilberto. "Saying "Ain't" and Playing "Dixie": Rhetoric and Comedy in Judge Priest." Raritan. Spring 2004. Vol.

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Directed by Stanley Kramer. Cast: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, William Shatner, Edward Binns, Kenneth MacKenna, Werner Klemperer. A fictionalized account of a war crimes trial of four eminent Nazi judges at Nuremberg, Germany, after World War II. Provides insight into Nazi brutality and raises questions about freedom of choice, loyalty to one's country, and responsibility to mankind. 190 min.

Justiz (Execution in Justice) (1993)

Directed by Hans W. Geissendorffer. Cast: Maximilian Schell, Thoma Heinze, Anna Thalbach, Mathias Gnadiger, Norbert Schwientek, Ulrike Kriener. The plot involves the examination of justice from the moral as well as from the judicial point of view. A man, who shoots another in open view without any reason, is arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He then prevails on a young lawyer to reexamine the question of guilt from a purely theoretical perspective. The question of what is right and what is wrong turns out to be extremely complex. 106 min.

Knock on Any Door (1949)

Directed by Nicholas Ray. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, John Derek, George Macready, Allene Roberts, Susan Perry. Andrew Morton is an attorney who made it out of the slums while his client, Nick Romano, has a long string of crimes behind him. After Nick lost his paycheck gambling, his wife announces she is pregnant and later he finds her dead from suicide. When he turns again to robbery he's caught by a cop and Nick pumps all his bullets into him in frustration. Film is notable for Morton's appeal to the court which emphasizes the evils of the slums.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Directed by Robert Benton. Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander, Justin Henry. When his wife walks out on Ted Kramer and his six-year-old son they have a chance to really get to know each other. Then Ted's wife returns demanding her son back and precipitating a battle for custody of the child. 125 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
Academy Award - Best Picture; Best Director
Directors Guild of America, USA - Outstanding Directorial Achievement

Legal Eagles (1986)

Directed by Ivan Reitman. Cast: Robert Redford, Debra Winger, Daryl Hannah, Brian Dennehy, Terence Stamp, Steven Hill. A hard-nosed assistant district attorney and an imaginative defense attorney combine their talents to defend a spacey "performance artist" who is accused of theft and murder. 116 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Legally Blonde (2001)

Director, Tom Shadyac. Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber, Jennifer Coolidge, Holland Taylor, Ali Larter. When a blonde sorority queen is dumped by her boyfriend, she decides to follow him to law school to get him back and, once there, learns she has more legal savvy than she ever imagined.