UC Berkeley Library

Lawyers & the Legal Process in Film

Party Girl (1958)

Directed by Nicholas Ray. Cast: Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Lee J. Cobb, John Ireland, Kent Smith, Claire Kelly, Corey Allen. Lawyer Thomas Farrell has made a career defending crooks in trials. He has never realised that there is a downside to his success, until he meets the dancer Vicki Gayle. She makes him decide to get out of the business, but mob king Rico Angelo insists that he continue his services. Based on a story by Leo Katcher. 99 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc) (France, 1928)

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Cast: Renee Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, Andre Berley, Maurice Schutz, Antonin Artaud, Gilbert Dalleu, Jean d'Yd, Lois Ravet. The trial and execution of Joan of Arc, based on actual court records, but compressed into a single day. This film is notable for its extensive use of close-ups, extreme close-ups, expressionistic camera angles, and historically accurate sets and costumes. Silent film with French intertitles and English subtitles and musical soundtrack.

Paths of Glory (1957)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Cast: Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Meeker, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson, Joseph Turkel, Susanne Christian, Jerry Hausner, Peter Capell, Emile Meyer, Berl Freed, Ken Dibbs, Timothy Carey. Safe in a chateau behind the front lines, the French General Staff passes down an order to Colonel Dax: take Ant Hill at any cost. A blatant suicide mission, the attack is doomed to failure. Covering up their fatal blunder, the Generals order the arrest of three innocent soldiers, charging them with cowardice and mutiny.


Directed by Jonathan Demme. Cast: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, Antonio Banderas, Joanne Woodward. Andrew Beckett, a gay lawyer infected with AIDS, is fired from his conservative law firm in fear that they might contract AIDS from him. After Andrew is fired, in a last attempt for peace, he sues his former law firm with the help of a homophobic lawyer, Joe Miller.

Presumed Innocent (1990)

Directed by Alan J. Pakula. Cast: Harrison Ford, Brian Dennehy, Raul Julia, Bonnie Bedelia, Paul Winfield, Greta Scacchi. Rusty Sabich, an up-and-comer in the county prosecutor's office, is swept up in an obsessive affair with a co-worker. When she is murdered, he's asked to lead the investigation. Then, astonishingly, he's accused of the crime. He's the perfect suspect and his fight to clear his name pulls him into a whirpool of lies and secrets. Based on the novel by Scott Turow. 127 min.

Primal Fear (1996)

Directed by Gregory Hoblit. Cast: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton. A Chicago altar boy is accused of murdering the archbishop and a publicity hungry local attorney decides to defend him. The case gets a lot more complex when the accused reveals that there may or may not have been a "third person" in the room during the murder. The intensity builds when a surprise twist alters everyone's perception of the crime and what really happened... Based on the novel by William Diehl. 130 min.

Proteus(Canada / South Africa, 2003)

Directors, Jack Lewis and John Greyson. Cast: Rouxnet Brown, Shaun Smyth, Neil Sandilands, Kristen Thomson. A fact-based interracial gay love story of two men incarcerated in the infamous South African Robin Island prison in the 18th century. Claas Blank, a Koi herder was unjustly imprisoned for stealing cattle. Rijkhaart Jacobsz, a withdrawn Dutch sailor, was imprisoned for the crime of homosexuality. The two were placed on trial for sodomy and the film is based partly on court transcipts from the time. 97 min.

Provoked (UK | India, 2006)

Directed by Jag Mundhra. Cast: Aishwarya Rai, Miranda Richardson, Naveen Andrews, Rebecca Pidgeon, Nandita Das, Robbie Coltrane. Unable to bear the brutality and repeated rapes by her alcoholic husband, Kiranjit Ahluwalia, a Punjabi housewife and mother of two in London, sets him on fire and kills him. Charged with first-degree murder, she is sentenced to life imprisonment, where she befriends her cell mate. Moved by her story, the cell mate asks her step-brother, a highly respected queen's counsel, to file her appeal.

Reasonable Doubt(TV, 1954)

Directed by Peter Hyams. Cast: Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, Michael Douglas, Joel David Moore, Orlando Jones. Martin Hunter is a high profile laywer who has an impeccable record putting criminals behind bars and is a shoo-in for governor in the upcoming election. But when ambitious rookie journalist C.J. Nicholas begins investigating Hunter for tampering with evidence to secure his convictions, the district attorney's perfect record is up for scrutiny. Commencing a risky game of cat and mouse with Hunter, C.J. frames himself as a murder suspect to catch the the corrupt D.A. in the act.

Reversal of Fortune (1990)

Directed by Barbet Schroeder. Cast: Glen Close, Jeremy Irons, Ron Silver. Did European aristocrat Claus von Bulow attempt to murder his wife Sunny at their luxurious Newport mansion in 1980? The tabloids of the day certainly had their opinions. "You have one thing in your favor," defense attorney Alan Dershowitz told von Bulow, "Everybody hates you." Reversal of Fortune is the acclaimed movie version of events that had all America talking. 106 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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