UC Berkeley Library

Lawyers & the Legal Process in Film

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Directed by Alan Parker. Cast: Gene Hackman and Willem Defoe. Set in Mississippi in 1964, this is a fictionalized version of the case of the murder of three young civil rights workers, the FBI's attempts to find the missing boys and the clash between the authorities and the locals in a Klan-dominated town. 127 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Mr. District Attorney (1947)

Directed by Robert B. Sinclair. Cast: Dennis O'Keefe, Adolphe Menjou, Marguerite Chapman, Michael O'Shea. Resenting his boss' constructive criticism and presumed interference, assistant DA Bennett goes astray, ultimately getting mixed up with trouble-prone Marcia Manning. DA Warren quickly realizes that Marcia is a no-good, but Bennett refuses to listen. Eventually, two men meet their deaths at Marcia's manicured hands, and by the last reel it looks as though Bennett will be third on her list. Based on the radio program 'Mr. District Attorney' created by Phillips H. Lord. 83 min.

Music Box (1989)

Directed by Costa-Gavras. Cast: Jessica Lange, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Frederic Forrest, Lukas Haas, Donald Moffat. In this courtroom thriller, Chicago attorney Ann Talbot agrees to defend her Hungarian immigrant father Mike Laszlo against accusations of heinous war crimes committed 50 years earlier. As the trial unfolds, Ann probes for evidence that will not only establish his innocence but also lay to rest her own agonizing doubts about his past. 126 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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My Cousin Vinny (1992)

Directed by Jonathan Lynn. Cast: Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Ralph Macchio, Mitchell Whitfield, Fred Gwynne. Two carefree pals traveling through Alabama are mistakenly arrested and charged with murder. They are defended by the cousin of one of them (Vinny), a former auto mechanic of Brooklyn who just passed his bar exam after his sixth try. Vinny's never been in court and this case quickly turns into a hysterical escapade. 120 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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No End (Bez konca) (Poland, 1985)

Director, Krysztof Kieslowski. Antek was one of the few lawyers willing to take on political cases in a period of enforced martial law. Upon his unexpected death, Antek's wife Ulla struggles to cope with her grief. She eventually takes on the task of finding another attorney to take over one of her husband's cases to defend a man jailed for leading a labor strike. After connecting a colleague from Antek's past with the prisoner's wife, a series of mysterious signals make Ulla believe that Antek's ghost is warning her about the man choosen to replace him. 103 min.

North Country (2005)

Directed by Niki Caro. Cast: Charlize Theron, Elle Peterson, Thomas Curtis, Frances McDormand, Sean Bean, Woody Harrelson, Jeremy Renner, Richard Jenkins, Sissy Spacek. Josey Aimes needs a job and goes to work at a Minnesota steel mine after splitting with her violent husband. But the job proves to be almost as harrowing as her marriage. The male miners are resentful of women taking their jobs, so the men verbally abuse and play humiliating pranks on the female miners.

Nuts (1987)

Directed by Martin Ritt. Cast: Barbra Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss, Maureen Stapleton, Eli Wallach, Robert Webber, James Whitmore, Karl Malden. The pending case: The People of the State of New York vs. Claudia Draper. The issue: Is Claudia, the high-class call girl accused of murder, mentally competent to stand trial? Sure, she's shocking, outspoken, explosive. But is she "nuts?" Claudia holds nothing back as she takes on the judicial system, modern psychiatry, personal demons and anyone in her way. Based on the play by Tom Topor. 116 min.

One Angry Man (2010)

Directed by Steven Moskovic. Cast: Jackie Mason, Jamie Colby, Tony Darrow, Raoul Felder, Mike Gallagher, Mark Levin. Modeled after the stage and screen production 'Twelve Angry Men', 'One Angry Man' is a courtroom dram-edy starring Jackie Mason as himself. The characters share stories with one another about their lives and experiences, tempers flare, emotions run rampant, and Jackie realizes he may have made a wrong decision. Jackie, being soft-hearted as he is, takes responsibility and tries re-convincing everyone of the plaintiff's innocence. 95 min.

Other People's Money (1991)

Directed by Norman Jewison. Cast: Danny DeVito, Gregory Peck, Penelope Ann Miller, Piper Laurie, Dean Jones, Tom Aldredge, R.D. Call, Mo Gaffney, Bette Henritze. A comedy about a ruthless Wall Street deal maker who pursues the hostile takeover of a small manufacturing company, New England Wire & Cable, and during the buyout attempt becomes enamoured with the company's attorney. 101 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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Palermo oder Wolfsburg (Switzerland / West Germany, 1980)

Director, Werner Schroeter. Cast: Nicola Zarbo, Ida Di Benedetto, Otto Sander, Magdalena Montezuma, Brigitte Tig, An impoverished young man from Sicily travels to Wolfsburg, West Germany to find work. He takes a job in the Volkswagen factory after he travels through Northern Italy by train. The young man is arrested after he kills two Germans with his knife when they question his honor. The third part of the film follows his subsequent trial and deals with justice denied and the attitude of many Germans who resent the influx of foreign labor. 170 min.

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