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The People vs. Jean Harris (1981)

A re-enactment of the trial of the mistress of the Scarsdale Diet doctor for his March 1980 murder, with excerpts from the transcript of the proceedings serving as the script.



Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Priscilla Morrill ...
Juanita Edwards
Milton Selzer ...
Dr. Roth
Alan Manson ...
Dr. Ryan
Sarah Marshall ...
Suzanne van der Vreken
Lesley Woods
Sari Price
Millie Slavin ...


A re-enactment of the trial of the mistress of the Scarsdale Diet doctor for his March 1980 murder, with excerpts from the transcript of the proceedings serving as the script.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Romance





Release Date:

7 May 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Jean-Harris-Prozess  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This drama was based on transcripts from Jean Harris' criminal trial. It was notable in being broadcast less than 3 months after the end of the actual trial. See more »


Referenced in Escale à Nanarland: Le Justicier de New York (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

How it's like to sit in a jury: Patience required
27 February 2006 | by (Zurich, Switzerland) – See all my reviews

In his opening speech the prosecutor tells the jury that he will not be able to put up a projector and show them what happened on a screen. This interesting movie remains true to that announcement and documents in a chronological order what went on in the courtroom in the trial against Jean Harris, accused of having murdered her long time lover, a well known doctor. The viewers have more or less the viewpoint of a member of the jury.

What is being said seems to come straight out of a protocol. The atmosphere in the courtroom is one of tolerance and also patience. Witnesses, not least the prime witness, the accused herself, often start to meander in their statements and it usually takes quite a while for the judge to interrupt them in a civil tone. The patient viewer is rewarded with an insight into the psyche of a strong willed, intelligent career woman to whom fate dealt cruel blows and who could just not take it anymore.

The acting is very good, Ellen Burstyn is absolutely convincing as Jean Harris and Martin Balsam gives a beautifully laid back performance as her lawyer. The judge, played by Richard A. Dysart, is one of the most uplifting movie judges I have ever seen. He shows great respect for all the people concerned and really is the conductor of the court proceedings which he has, tolerance non-withstanding, in a firm grip.

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