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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
The film was made and released about two years after its source novel of the same name by Barry Reed was first published in 1980. The book was the first novel of Reed and has been translated into a dozen languages. See more »
The pinball machine Frank Galvin plays at the bar is named Disco Fever, and is an early electronic pinball, with digital sound and gas-discharge score displays. The sound effects however, are of mechanical bells and score reels made by an electro-mechanical pinball machine made before 1976. See more »
[to the judge]
You couldn't hack it as a lawyer. You were a bag man for the boys downtown and you still are, I know about you.
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Newman amazing as drunken lawyer in story of redemption...
The title of this movie is deceiving. THE VERDICT suggests a courtroom drama, something like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, or INHERIT THE WIND. It does have some riveting court scenes, but what happens outside of court and to Paul Newman is the real attraction here. The title not only refers to the inevitable decision of the important case of the film, but also to how the Newman character is going to live the rest of his life. Should he sell out and take the easy settlement, or take the highly regarded archdiocese of Boston to court for real justice. These are the questions Newman must face in this profound drama that seems more like a picture of the 70's than an 80's film.
Director Sidney Lumet has dealt with the legal system before in his first film, 12 ANGRY MEN. He takes it to a more personal level and Paul Newman, one of the finest actors of the past 40 years, is the person to do it. He is a legend and he bares his soul as attorney Frank Galvin, a lonely, corrupt drunk whose license to practice law is hanging by a thread. Jack Warden plays his trusty assistant who gets him a case that could help Frank change his life. Warden, however, has had enough.
Newman plays an excellent drunk, even cracking an egg into an 8am beer to start his day. This is a dim looking movie, shot during a cold winter in Boston. There are no great shots, or even any emotionally-rousing speeches, but this is Lumet's style. It is plodding and we see into the life of a lawyer on the ropes. James Mason is perfect as the slimy defense lawyer. Newman is constantly underestimated because of past failures. He is a drunk, but he still has some tricks up his sleeve.
NOTE: Look closely at the closing argument given by Newman. In the background, you can glimpse a then-unknown Bruce Willis.
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