Down 273 this week

The Pelican Brief (1993)

PG-13  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  17 December 1993 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.5/10 from 56,237 users   Metascore: 50/100
Reviews: 82 user | 43 critic | 15 from Metacritic.com

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



(book), (screenplay)
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A quadriplegic ex-homicide detective and his female partner try to track down a serial killer who is terrorizing New York City.

Director: Phillip Noyce
Stars: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah
Action | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A US Army officer, despondent about a deadly mistake he made, investigates a female chopper commander's worthiness for the Medal of Honor.

Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan, Lou Diamond Phillips
Action | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A man obsessed with conspiracy theories becomes a target after one of his theories turns out to be true. Unfortunately, in order to save himself, he has to figure out which theory it is.

Director: Richard Donner
Stars: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart
The Siege (1998)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The secret US abduction of a suspected terrorist leads to a wave of terrorist attacks in New York that lead to the declaration of martial law.

Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Annette Bening
The Client (1994)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young boy who witnessed the suicide of a mafia lawyer hires an attorney to protect him when the district attorney tries to use him to take down a mob family.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro
Fallen (1998)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Homicide detective John Hobbes witnesses the execution of serial killer Edgar Reese. Soon after the execution the killings start again, and they are very similar to Reese's style.

Director: Gregory Hoblit
Stars: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland
Crimson Tide (1995)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

On a US nuclear missile sub, a young first officer stages a mutiny to prevent his trigger happy captain from launching his missiles before confirming his orders to do so.

Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington, Matt Craven
Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In the midst of the Gulf War, soldiers are kidnapped and brainwashed for sinister purposes.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A young woman fakes her own death in an attempt to escape her nightmarish marriage, but discovers it is impossible to elude her controlling husband.

Director: Joseph Ruben
Stars: Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin, Kevin Anderson
John Q (2002)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

John Quincy Archibald takes a hospital emergency room hostage when his insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant.

Director: Nick Cassavetes
Stars: Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, Gabriela Oltean
The Firm (1993)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young lawyer joins a prestigious law firm only to discover that it has a sinister dark side.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city's water supply.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, David Brisbin


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


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


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:





Release Date:

17 December 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El informe Pelícano  »

Box Office


$45,000,000 (estimated)


£2,003,591 (UK) (4 March 1994)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Not only were the Georgetown Law library scenes filmed on location in the main reading room and one of the study rooms on the third floor of the school's library, the scenes at the Registrar's Office and the Career Services Office, and of Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts talking in an open area outside of those offices, are all shot in the main building of the Law Center (McDonough Hall). You can see actual Georgetown Law security officers as extras in the background of the McDonough scenes. See more »


As the camera panes over the dead body of Chief Justice Rosenberg, he is still breathing. See more »


[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 »


Referenced in The Simpsons: Lisa the Drama Queen (2009) See more »


Clarinet Marmalade
Written by Larry Shields (as L. Shields) and Henry Ragas (as H. W. Ragas)
Performed by Rene Netto & The Sounds of New Orleans
Courtesy of H.E.R. Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Good Suspense -- For the Intelligent Movie-Goer
25 July 2000 | by (Virginia) – See all my reviews

I enjoyed this film very much. It is well acted, and has plenty of star power, with great performances from Roberts and Washington. The story is compelling, and the cinematography lends itself to excellent suspense. However, many moviegoers (including myself) will find elements of the plot confusing and hard to follow. There are a great number of characters, and it is often difficult to tell who is who -- most of the "bad guys" dress alike and have similar hair, so distinguishing them becomes challenging. This may be a minor flaw in either casting or costume, making the characters somewhat undistinguishable. However, it also makes the plot quite intriguing, as the intelligent moviegoer becomes entangled at guessing just exactly who is associated with who, and so on. Still an excellent suspense movie -- if you like other Grisham movies (The Firm, the Rainmaker, etc.) you will like The Pelican Brief. But be warned: watch the film in an attentive state, and be prepared to think a lot. If you are a lazy, sit-back-and-relax type of viewer, this may not be the film for you.

41 of 55 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
When the movie is better than the book cifrocco
The Great Flaw in this story.... psaxe-2
The DVD sucks! bluejay8
Bring a Blanket and a Pillow... Cate1956
Plot question Ramblingon
Questions about the film Catherine_Grace_Zeh
Discuss The Pelican Brief (1993) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: