A New York City narcotics detective reluctantly agrees to cooperate with a special commission investigating police corruption. However, he soon discovers that he's in over his head, and nobody can be trusted.
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Frank Galvin was once a promising Boston lawyer with a bright future ahead. An incident early in his career in which he was trying to do the right thing led to him being fired from the prestigious law firm with which he was working, almost being disbarred, and his wife leaving him. Continually drowning his sorrows in booze, he is now an ambulance chasing lawyer, preying on the weak and vulnerable, and bending the truth whenever necessary to make what few dollars he has, as he has only had a few cases in the last few years, losing the last four. His only friend in the profession is his now retired ex-partner, Mickey Morrissey, who gets Frank a case, his fee solely a percentage of what his clients are awarded. The case should net Frank tens of thousands of dollars by settling out of court, that money which would at least get him back on his feet. It is a negligence suit brought on behalf of Deborah Ann Kaye by her sister and brother-in-law, Sally and Kevin Doneghy, against St. Catherine... Written by
[November 2008] Ranked #254 on Empire's "500 Greatest Movies of All Time" list. See more »
The case Concannon cites at a key moment is described with an incorrect legal form. For the United States legal reporter, the citation should be a whole number followed by "U.S." or "United States" and then another whole number, not a decimal. See more »
[Frank is giving his summation to the jury]
You know, so much of the time we're just lost. We say, "Please, God, tell us what is right; tell us what is true." And there is no justice: the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead... a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims... and we become victims. We become... we become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today...
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I love this film, I own a copy and I watch it at least once a year. It's hard to pick a "best work" from Sidney Lumet, Paul Newman or David Mamet, but this film ranks up there for all three. And really, when you say those three names on one film, that says it all, doesn't it?
Newman plays a down and out lawyer, a drunk ambulance chaser whose life changes when he turns down a pultry settlement offer to try a case that he can't possibly win. There are so many great scenes in this film, it's hard to pick a favorite. Possibly, the very end, the ringing phone Paul Newman ignores as he sips on some coffee, rather than whiskey, might be one of the all time greats. The scene sums up the movie so well. My other favorite is a long, single shot where Newman is on the phone trying to get another doctor to testify and Jack Warden paces the room. The camera is at the other end of the room, on the floor and the scene is about five or six minutes long, one continuous shot, beautifully done.
I read a book a couple years ago that covered blunders in film regarding court cases and apparently there were a couple in this one. But this is a film that is so great, so well done, I think Godzilla could have trampled part of Boston and Lumet could have made it believable. Although Cool Hand Luke is my favorite film of all time, The Verdict is my second favorite Newman film. See it if you can.
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