The Star Chamber (1983)

R  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  5 August 1983 (USA)
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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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


...Where justice is served with a vengeance. 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?


Second of three movies where actor Hal Holbrook leads a group of outlaw law professionals with all three pictures being made and released exactly a decade apart. In 1973's Magnum Force (1973), Holbrook lead a group of rebel cops; in 1983's The Star Chamber (1983), Holbrook heads a court of vigilante judges; whilst similarly in another legal drama-thriller, Holbrook would later lead a team of renegade lawyers in 1993's The Firm (1993). See more »


After deciding to correct the mistake the Star Chamber has made, Judge Hardin is seen in his dark office. The lights are off except for the desk lamp he is using. The office door is open showing the adjacent courtroom where Judge Caulfield appears, calling Hardin. When Hardin exits his office, entering the courtroom, his office is brightly lit. See more »


Det. James Wickman: Did you eat?
Det. Harry Lowes: Yes.
Det. James Wickman: When?
Det. Harry Lowes: Yesterday.
Det. Harry Lowes: If you don't eat, you could die. You could die here. I don't want you to die here. If you die here, I have to fill out all kinds of paperwork. And you know how I hate to do paperwork.
See more »


Referenced in Caroline in the City: Caroline and the Ultimatum (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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