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Reversal of Fortune (1990)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 9,431 users   Metascore: 93/100
Reviews: 55 user | 26 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

Wealthy Sunny von Bülow lies brain-dead, husband Claus guilty of attempted murder; but he says he's innocent and hires Alan Dershowitz for his appeal.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Sunny von Bülow / Narrator
...
...
...
...
Maria, Sunny's Personal Maid
...
Jack Gilpin ...
Peter MacIntosh, Dershowitz's Student Staff
...
Andrea Reynolds, Claus' Girlfriend
...
...
Ellen
...
Minnie, Dershowitz's Student Staff
Mano Singh ...
Raj, Dershowitz's Student Staff
Johann Carlo ...
Nancy
Keith Reddin ...
Dobbs, Dershowitz's Student Staff
Alan Pottinger ...
Chuck, Dershowitz's Student Staff
Edit

Storyline

Alan Dershowitz a brilliant professor of law is hired by wealthy socialite Claus von Bulow to attempt to overturn his two convictions for attempted murder of his extremely wealthy wife. Based on a true story the film concentrates not on the trial like other legal thrillers, but on the preparatory work that Dershowitz and his students put in as they attempt to disprove the prosecution's case and achieve the Reversal of Fortune of the title. Written by Mark Thompson <mrt@oasis.icl.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Case of Claus Von Bulow. An American Saga of Money and Mystery.


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

October 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Reversal of Fortune  »

Box Office

Gross:

$15,445,131 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Julie Hagerty:  Alexandra See more »

Goofs

A law student says they were "faxing it over." Fax machines existed in 1983, but they were not common. See more »

Quotes

Claus von Bülow: How - ah, my prawns - how do you define a fear of insulin?
[silence]
Claus von Bülow: Claus-traphobia.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

GIMME A LITTLE SIGN
Performed by Brenton Wood
Written by Jerry Winn (lyrics), Alfred Smith and Joseph Hooven
Courtesy of Original Sound Records Co., Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Prince Of Perversion
16 December 2012 | by (Greenwich, CT United States) – See all my reviews

When a rich but difficult-to-live-with woman turns up in a coma, suspicions naturally fall upon her someone sinister spouse. But even a guilty man deserves a fair trial, or so a committed legal scholar believes in a film about skewed viewpoints that plays with our own point of view.

First-billed actor Glenn Close plays Sunny von Bülow in a bed for much of the film, either laid out in a druggy haze or in a full-fledged coma from which she tells us she won't emerge. That leaves Ron Silver as legal eagle Alan Dershowitz handling most of the action arranging a fresh defense for convicted murderer Claus von Bülow, whom Jeremy Irons plays with slick tragi-comic flair.

"Let the chips fall where they may!" he tells Dershowitz when warned about the perils of seeking out the truth.

"That's what an innocent man would say," a skeptical Dersh replies.

"I know," says smug Claus with a lazy pull at his cigarette. Is he sincere, or playing a part?

Director Barbet Schroeder seems to have a thing about the tricky ground where power and morality meet: He made his name with a documentary of dictator Idi Amin that came in two versions, a friendlier one for Amin's domestic distribution in Uganda and a less guarded version for international distribution. Here he seems to enjoy his proximity to another devil, albeit one who may be innocent after all.

We certainly root for Claus, mainly because Irons plays him in a way that makes him an underdog, whether against the legal system or Dershowitz's team of young lawyers who mock him about his sex life. "We can't all be like you," he tells Dershowitz after the latter goes off on him for his lack of apparent concern about his vegetative wife, and there's a trace of real feeling in his line reading.

He seems less a cold-blooded killer than the emotionally-stunted product of a rich society, in a way not much different from poor Sunny. She wants to lie in bed smoking and pill-popping while he wants a career, not to mention a little time with a pretty soap-opera actress. "You marry me for my money, then you demand to work," she huffs. "You're the prince of perversion."

We are encouraged to see him that way, too, although not necessarily a criminal one. He lives a life so far removed from normal human interaction and concerns that he seems to enjoy his little jests even if no one else can - except the audience, which makes us a little perverse, too.

"Reversal Of Fortune" has a lot of great moments, but plenty of duff ones, too. There's a subplot about a sleazy gadabout played with zest by Fisher Stevens that never gels with the main story, and neither does an attempt at shoehorning some romance for Dershowitz with one of his assistants. Nicholas Kazan delivers a smart script but does get stuck in the weeds trying to get across a good deal of information.

Silver is great though, giving pound for pound the film's best performance even if Close is first-billed and Irons won the Best Actor Oscar. You need a center for a film like this, and someone who's morally grounded, but Dershowitz is presented as that here only in a relative sense. He not only takes Claus's case despite his belief of his guilt, but can even joke about wanting to defend Hitler in a court of law, just so he can kill him after by himself.

Is Dershowitz the film's real prince of perversion? Schroeder and crew aren't saying, but you can tell they're having fun making you think.


1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Cigarettes Jazztiger
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