USA Release date: 8th December 1982
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 2nd June 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I must say it’s nice to watch a courtroom dram that is not based on a Tom Clancy novel for a change. I know I had to go all the way back to 1982 to find one, but there you go. A film that picked up four Oscar nominations including Best Actor for Paul Newman and Best Supporting Actor for James Mason, I considered it a “must see”. I can see just why they got these nominations; particularly Newman, he really pulled out all the stops for this one! But more of that later, here’s a very brief summary.
When washed-up Boston lawyer Frank Galvin is handed a medical malpractice case, it seems like easy money. Just get the hospital to settle out of court and take a third of what’s offered, but no, there’s a catch. Galvin suddenly has an attack of conscience and feels he should make those responsible pay. He persuades his friend, Mickey Morrissey to help him and even finds a doctor to act as an expert witness. But he has more on his hands than he thinks; his opposite number, Ed Concannon, is a formidable foe who will stop at nothing to win a case. He has many more resources than Galvin and uses them to great effect. Add to this a femme fatal, Laura Fischer, and the judge who is of suspect scruples (to say the least), and we have the makings of an interesting mix. Can Frank find that one chink in the armour; he knows somebody is not telling the truth… but who? I will leave it there or the Spoiler Police (Courtroom Dramas Division) will be having me subpoenaed (again).
A very well made film that may come over as slightly dated today, but even so, it’s the interaction between the characters that’s the important thing. A tremendous performance from Paul Newman as Frank Galvin; I really believed in his character and that’s the mark of a great performance (I feel). James Mason also did a great job as Ed Concannon; just as ruthless as you’d expect. Charlotte Rampling did a decent job as the smouldering Laura Fischer and Jack Warden was also good as Mickey Morrissey. Finally a mention for Milo O'Shea as Judge Hoyle, he really played the unsympathetic judge with great aplomb.
A film with quite a slow measured pace; the events are allowed to evolve quite slowly on the screen. Quite a long time is used at the beginning to set the scene and explain just what life is like for Frank. The reasons come later, but I felt a little too long was spent on this portion of the story. Having said that, I found it an engaging and entertaining film and I could easily get involved in the characters and the storyline. If you’re partial to the odd courtroom drama, or you just want to see Paul Newman in Oscar-worthy form, then this one comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
My score: 7.8/10
IMDb Score: 7.7/10 (based on 14,845 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: NO DATA: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 96/100 (based on 24 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 73/100 ‘Want to See’ (based on 8,442 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Mickey Morrissey: [Mickey is trying to convince Frank not to take the case to trial] Do you know who the attorney for the Archdiocese is? Ed Concannon!
Frank Galvin: He's a good man...
Mickey Morrissey: He's a good man? Heh, heh, he's the Prince of fucking Darkness! He'll have people testifying they saw her waterskiing in Marblehead last summer. Now look, Frank, don't *fuck with this case!
[the church has offered a check for $210,000 to settle the case]
Frank Galvin: How did you settle on the amount?
Bishop Brophy: We thought it was just.
Frank Galvin: You thought it was just?
Bishop Brophy: Yes.
Frank Galvin: Because it struck me, um, how neatly 'three' went into this figure: 210,000. That means I would keep seventy.
Bishop Brophy: That was our insurance company's recommendation.
Frank Galvin: Yes, that would be.
Bishop Brophy: Nothing we can do can make that woman well.
Frank Galvin: And no one will know the truth.
Bishop Brophy: What is the truth?
Frank Galvin: That that poor girl put her trust into the... into the hands of two men who took her life. She's in a coma. Her life is gone. She has no home, no family. She's tied to a machine. She has no friends. And the people who should care for her - her doctors... and you and me - have been bought off to look the other way. We've been paid to look the other way. I came here to take your money. I brought snapshots to show you so I could get your money. I can't do it; I can't take it. 'Cause if I take the money I'm lost. I'll just be a... rich ambulance chaser. I can't do it. I can't take it.
Maureen Rooney: You know you guys are all the same. You don't care who gets hurt. You're a bunch of whores. You'd do anything for a dollar. You got no loyalty... No nothing... You're a bunch of whores.
Kevin Doneghy: You guys... you guys are all the same! The doctors at the hospital, you... it's always what I'm going to do for you. And then you screw up, and it's, "Ah, we did the best that we could, I'm dreadfully sorry." And people like us live with your mistakes the rest of our lives.