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The Star Chamber (1983)

R  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  5 August 1983 (USA)
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Reviews: 34 user | 18 critic

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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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 ...
Det. Kenneth Wiggan
Det. Paul Mackey
Margie Impert ...
Louise Pacinni
Dana Gladstone ...
Dept. Dist. Atty. Martin Hyatt
Officer Nelson


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


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


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 August 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ein Richter sieht rot  »

Box Office


$5,600,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The picture's closing credits declare that the film was dedicated "For George-Ann". George-Ann is the first name of George-Ann Spota who is the wife of the movie's director Peter Hyams. The film references her last name with the naming of a character called Sergeant Spota (Robert Costanzo) something which is a trademark of director Hyams. See more »


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 »


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 »


Referenced in Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

They were making a cerebral vigilante movie and an action film broke out.
8 February 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When "The Star Chamber" was released to theaters in 1983, the movie bombed at the box office. I was lucky to see the movie in its second week of release. I have seen the movie several times on cable TV and video and even though the movie had some good ideas, it was ruined by turning it into a mindless, sometimes laughable action thriller.

The story (by Roderick Taylor with the script co-written by Taylor and director Peter Hyams) rose slightly above the usual vigilante movie clichés. The movie asks what if some judges, frustrated by the law that they are supposed to uphold, took matters into their own hands? Despite strong evidence that would incriminate the accused, the judges have to reject the evidence on technicalities, freeing the accused individuals.

Though the film has a strong cast, I though Michael Douglas was a little too young to play a judge (he was 39 at the time the movie was released). Hal Holbrook is essentially playing the same role he played in Hyams other "what if?" conspiracy thriller a few years earlier (Capricorn One): the veteran judge who is involved in this conspiracy and gets the Douglas character involved.

Yaphet Kotto does what he can in the underwritten role of the L.A. police detective investigating the case. Sharon Gless is wasted as Douglas' understanding wife. Veteran character actors Don Calfa and Joe Regalbuto (Frank Fontana from "Murphy Brown") played the unsympathetic, cartoon criminals who are on the Chamber's hit list.

Only James B. Sikking's performance as a victim's father who finds himself in prison when he tries to take the law into his own hands, came through. It was a very sympathetic and heartbreaking. In retrospect, it's interesting that Sikking played the SWAT commander on "Hill Street Blues" when the movie was released.

Hyams' films (including "2010", "The Presidio", "Outland", the previously mentioned "Capricorn One", even the Jean Claude Van Damme flicks "Timecop" and "Sudden Death") are interesting to look at. "The Star Chamber" is no exception. But many of his films tend to disappoint and, sadly, "The Star Chamber" is also on that list.

Update (July 2006): The current DVD cover of the movie is misleading. It has Michael Douglas holding a gun. In the film, his character never used a gun. What's up with the 20th Century Fox marketing department trying to mislead potential viewers of this movie?

14 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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