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Frank Galvin is a down-on-his luck lawyer, reduced to drinking and ambulance chasing. Former associate Mickey Morrissey reminds him of his obligations in a medical malpractice suit that he himself served to Galvin on a silver platter: all parties willing to settle out of court. Blundering his way through the preliminaries, he suddenly realizes that perhaps after all the case should go to court: to punish the guilty, to get a decent settlement for his clients, and to restore his standing as a lawyer. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
Throughout the film, the length of time that the woman is said to have been in a coma is 4 years (the confrontation between the husband and Frank Galvin, for example), but during his cross examination of Kaitlin Price, Galvin gives the date of the operation as May 12, 1976.
The date on Concannon's check to Laura Fischer is dated February 19, 1982, making it nearly 6 years since the woman went into the coma. See more »
"The Verdict" is simply one of the best legal dramas ever done. Of course much of what happens in the movie is unrealistic and wouldn't happen in a real case but the movie isn't a study in courtroom procedure (watch the fantastic "Anatomy of a Murder" for that) it is a study about redemption and in that respect it excels.
This movie captures Paul Newman's finest screen performance and that alone makes it an important movie. The scenes where Newman hardly says anything show how great an actor he is---his look of self-loathing when he's thrown out of the funeral home, his palsied hand and lost look when he's trying to drink his whiskey, his panic when Charlotte Rampling lambastes him for being a failure. Then throw into that his terrific courtroom scenes, his arguments with the judge in chambers, it is just a sensational performance all around.
The level of acting is high all around in this movie. James Mason was Oscar nominated for playing the silky smooth, totally corrupt defense attorney. Jack Warden shines as Frank Galvin's world-weary former law partner. Lindsey Crouse has a small role as a nurse but is given the most powerful and dramatic moment in the entire movie. Her cross-examination by James Mason is where the movie really shines and shows that Paul Newman can keep his ego in check. How many movies give the most powerful and dramatic moment of the film to one of the secondary players? How many lead actors would be willing to just sit there quiet in a chair while a bit player and the second male lead share the big moment? It was a bold decision by both Newman, director Sidney Lumet and writer David Mamet and it is unforgettable.
The movie shows the two extremes of the practice of law. James Mason's win-at-all-costs cheating and Paul Newman getting so emotionally wrapped up in the case that he is no longer protecting his client's interests and instead is out to settle his own personal scores. A great, great movie.
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