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The Pelican Brief (1993)

6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 47,972 users   Metascore: 50/100
Reviews: 76 user | 38 critic | 15 from Metacritic.com

A law student uncovers a conspiracy, putting herself and others in danger.

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Title: The Pelican Brief (1993)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Thomas Callahan
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Gavin Vereek
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Fletcher Coal
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FBI Director Denton Voyles (as James B. Sikking)
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Bob Gminski
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President
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Justice Rosenberg
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Smith Keen
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Marty Velmano
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Stump
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Edwin Sneller
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Matthew Barr
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Storyline

Two Supreme Court Justices have been killed. Now a college professor, who clerked for one of the two men, who's also having an affair with one of his students, is given a brief by her, that states who probably, wanted to see these two men dead. He then gives it to one of his friends, who works for the FBI. When the FBI director reads it, he is fascinated by it. One of the president's men who read it, is afraid that if it ever got out, the president could be smeared. So, he advises the president to tell the director to drop it, which he does. But later the professor and the girl were out and he was drunk and when he refused to give her the keys she stepped out of the car. When he started it, it blew up. She then discovers that her place has been burglarized and what was taken were her computer and her disks. Obviously, her brief has someone agitated. She then turns to her boyfriend's friend at the FBI, he agrees to come meet her but before he does someone shoots him and takes his place... Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

From the author of "The Firm" and "The Client" and the director of "Presumed Innocent" and "All The President's Men." See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for momentary language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 December 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Pelican Brief  »

Box Office

Budget:

$45,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

£2,003,591 (UK) (4 March 1994)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the Tulane Law School has moved to a new building since this film was released, the room where Julia Roberts and Sam Shepard meet for class early in the move is still a classroom: Jones Hall Rm. 102. See more »

Goofs

The recording of Darby's phone call does not match the actual conversation. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Justice Rosenberg: Any of those signs got my name on 'em?
Gray Grantham: Quite a few.
Justice Rosenberg: What do they say?
Gray Grantham: The usual: Death to Rosenberg, Retire Rosenberg, Cut off the oxygen.
Justice Rosenberg: [laughs] That's my favorite. Of course you, Mr Grantham, did pretty good by me your last time out: Rosenberg equals the government over business, the individual over government, the environment over everything. And the Indians? Oh, give 'em whatever they want.
Gray Grantham: Well with all due respects sir, that wasn't my line, that was a quote.
Justice Rosenberg: From one of your...
See more »

Connections

References The Firm (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Nearly
Written by Danny Gould
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
It's all been seen before
11 April 2009 | by (Sheffield, England) – See all my reviews

The 1993 film with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington still in the formation years of their careers – so this is certainly if nothing else a curiosity piece seeing how these megastar A-listers performed before they truly reached the top. John Grisham novels will generally make for a reasonably solid if unspectacular film, with just sufficient meat for serious actors to get their teeth into, and the Pelican Brief is no exception to this rule.

When two senior judges are murdered, twenty-four year old law student Darby Shaw (Roberts) looks into the case and her suspicions somehow make their way to the FBI – suspicions that prove potentially damaging to the US government. Now she and journalist Gray Grantham (Washington) must try to stay alive long enough to ensure what they have uncovered is told to the world.

Few do distress-turned-determination better than Julia Roberts, but after a slow start followed by a great deal of panicked running and hiding, interest wanes somewhat. Meanwhile Denzel Washington is given so little to do in the first hour to the point he is almost forgotten. Further, it takes so long for us to actually discover what was written in the eponymous brief and for the leads to meet and agree to take action, that the audience's desire to get to the bottom of the 'mystery' is definitely lessened. However, once the two do start working together in the latter half interest does pick up, but not enough to retrieve the film from its ponderous start. Roberts and Washington do the job required of them but seem to treat it as little more than a day at the office – there is very little of the energy we have come to expect from Roberts, or Washington in particular. The secondary roles are filled slightly better – John Lithgow in particular a standout newspaper editor, and watch out for a very young Cynthia Nixon (Miranda from Sex in the City) as Julia Roberts' student friend. However, Stanley Tucci as one of a number of shadowy government figures on the tail of the leads should have stuck to the shadows more. There is little of the slickness, the grit and pace characteristic of later John Grisham adaptations such as Runaway Jury.

Legal thrillers about corrupt government prepared to kill to save their own position have been done so often (and so often much better) that little feels fresh about this Grisham adaptation, to the extent that were it not for the presence of A-listers Roberts and Washington this film would have long been forgotten. As it is, the film does not have enough thrills to save it from the fate of the DVD bargain basement bin. If you wanted to see this, it would probably be cheaper to buy than rent this film – and it would make a nice coaster! OK for a throwaway (literally) Saturday night film, but not memorable in any way. It's all been seen and done before.


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