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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Though entitled "The Verdict", the original final draft of David Mamet's screenplay had no verdict in it. Producer Richard D. Zanuck commented that the title would require a question mark on advertising materials making it "The Verdict?". It was director Sidney Lumet who convinced Mamet to add in a verdict so the film could have a third act denouement. See more »
Early in the film, Frank two-finger-types a note on a manual typewriter to tape on the door of his office suite. When we see the note, however, we can see that the typed letters are perfectly uniform in darkness and thickness, indicating that the note was actually typed on an electric typewriter. See more »
This case should never have come to trial. But you know better. You're mister independent. You want to be independent? Be independent now. I have no sympathy for you.
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I've always believed that actors are drawn to courtroom material because of the inherent conflict within them makes for good drama and good parts. They're quite a few of them in The Verdict.
This has always been my favorite Paul Newman film, it's the one he should have won the Oscar for. His Frank Galvin is not the noblest of creatures, he's a once promising attorney now an alcoholic ambulance chaser. But the skills are still there and he shows them battling tremendous odds. Thirty years earlier Frank Capra could easily have made this the subject of one of his populist dramas.
Newman gets great support from an outstanding cast. James Mason, Jack Warden, Charlotte Rampling, Joe Seneca deliver some outstanding performances. The one I particularly liked here was Milo O'Shea as the corrupt and biased judge.
Most of the great courtroom dramas have been about criminal cases. The Verdict was a landmark film that set the stage for the success of other great films about civil cases, including A Civil Action and Erin Brockovich. Those I don't think would have been made but for the critical and popular success of The Verdict.
Paul Newman was never better on screen.
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