6.3/10
5,068
39 user 19 critic

The Star Chamber (1983)

Disgusted with criminals escaping the judicial system via technicalities, an idealistic young judge investigates an alternative method for punishing the guilty.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Superior Court Judge Steven R. Hardin
...
Judge Benjamin Caulfield
...
Det. Harry Lowes
...
Emily Hardin
...
Dr. Harold Lewin (as James B. Sikking)
...
Arthur Cooms
...
Lawrence Monk
John DiSanti ...
Det. James Wickman
...
Stanley Flowers (as DeWayne Jessie)
Jack Kehoe ...
Hingle
...
Det. Kenneth Wiggan
...
Det. Paul Mackey
Margie Impert ...
Louise Pacinni
Dana Gladstone ...
Dept. Dist. Atty. Martin Hyatt
...
Officer Nelson
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Storyline

Disgusted with criminals escaping the judicial system via technicalities, an idealistic young judge investigates an alternative method for punishing the guilty. Written by <bentley@access.digex.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They meet. They judge. They execute... All in the name of the law. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 August 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ein Richter sieht rot  »

Box Office

Gross:

$5,600,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Debut credited produced screenplay of writer Roderick Taylor. See more »

Goofs

At the Atlanta Braves game Michael Douglas is sitting next to Hal Holbrook to Holbrook's left. In two wide angle shots of the seats Michael Douglas does not appear. Just Holbrook's wife and Douglas' wife. See more »

Quotes

Judge Benjamin Caulfield: It's always been a game, only now the bad guys have a stronger team, got a better draft.
Superior Court Judge Steven R. Hardin: You know I took a lot of notes in your class and I can never remember you saying anything quite like that.
Judge Benjamin Caulfield: You should have taken fewer notes and listened more.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Like a Brother (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Boys in the Brigade
Perffomed by Youth Brigade
courtesy of Better Youth Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
"I can't help feeling...that we've become them."
8 June 2013 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Amusingly described by one review I read here as "a vigilante movie as it might be envisioned by John Grisham", "The Star Chamber" is a good, solid, entertaining thriller. It misses its chances for greatness due to predictability and a lack of credibility, but while it's playing out, some people, such as this viewer, may not mind too much.

Michael Douglas, in one of his earliest star vehicles, plays Steven Hardin, a young judge who's frustrated by the legal system with which he has to work. Far too often criminal scum are able to escape just punishment due to legal technicalities and savvy defense attorneys. Stevens' cagey, witty mentor Benjamin Caulfield (a marvelous Hal Holbrook) eventually reveals to Steven the method he and some fellow judges have employed to deal with the situation: review old, particularly infuriating cases, make judgments, and pass sentence, utilizing the services of a hired gun.

This is certainly slick stuff, well made technically with efficient direction by Peter Hyams and it's at least smart enough to provoke some debate. For example, what would *you* do: let the 10 guilty men go free or let the one innocent man get executed? It includes some fairly exciting foot chases as well as one brief and decent car chase in a parking garage. The climactic sequence in the abandoned building is appropriately atmospheric. And Michael Smalls' music score is haunting and effective.

Douglas is good in the lead but it's the men in the major supporting parts that truly shine: besides Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto scores as a dedicated detective and James B. Sikking is touching as the father of a murdered child. Sharon Gless has little to do as Stevens' concerned wife. The cast contains an impressive Who's Who roster of character actors, including Joe Regalbuto ('Murphy Brown') and Don Calfa ("The Return of the Living Dead") as a pair of goofy creeps, as well as Jack Kehoe, Larry Hankin, Dick Anthony Williams, David Proval, Robin Gammell, Matthew Faison, Michael Ensign, Jason Bernard, and Robert Costanzo. David Faustino ('Married with Children') plays one of Douglas's kids and Douglas's own real-life mother Diana plays Caulfields' wife; Charles Hallahan ("The Thing", 'Hunter') appears uncredited as police officer Picker.

The movie does move along quite well, getting off to a good start but not concluding as strongly. Still, it's good entertainment for most of the time, and may have people talking about its themes after it's over.

Seven out of 10.


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