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Ever been in Family Court? I have, more than once.
You need to have been there to appreciate this film, which goes into the complex relationships and differing points of view of the participants in our legal system. What goes on behind the scenes?
You also see why our legal system doesn't work. It has little to do with the subject, the protagonist. In murder trials, they are never there because they're always dead! But they do move the story along. Meanwhile, the antagonists are, really, all the rest of the cast, and we see how they make a lot of money realizing their successful careers (how much is never mentioned, of course.)
Director Del Mann and writer Cindy Myers know their way around this material, and make full use of this knowledge. And it was cast beautifully.
Notice the jealousy and rivalry between the judges, who claim proprietary ownership of "their" courtrooms. Notice the conflicts of interest that infects everything that takes place, especially between the lawyers. They all wear their masks. Here we see judges who become part of the case!
So, watch this film, and LEARN, if you're about to seek a restraining order. I was able to see my own case in a different light because of this film. The principles of Greek drama are fully utilized, and the innocent members of the public will be in for surprises and enlightenment.
You may be left with the feeling, if you reach catharsis, that there must be a better (and not illegal) way to settle family disputes. You will also be left with the resolve to stay away from lawyers, judges, and courts, if you're looking for closure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Walter Matthau and Harry Morgan made some combination as a lawyer and
When Morgan's daughter, living in Illinois, calls after a 13 year separation from her father to report that her former beau, the father of their child, is back in town. She had lied to her son stating that he had been killed during World War 11. She never would admit that the boy was conceived via a rape.
When the father is soon killed, Grandpa Morgan is arrested as he had made threats to the guy. As in a domino case, he is soon found to be covering for his daughter. The domino goes on and you will understand if I don't reveal the real killer here.
Matthau still struts that swagger of his when he walks around. Nonetheless, he gives a restrained performance and is equally matched by Morgan, who while older, is as restrained as they come.
Did anyone notice the resemblance between the prosecuting attorney and Hillary Clinton?
Lily and her son John live alone in a small town as her husband has
been killed fighting the war in France. Or at least that is what she
told John, but the arrival of Frank back in the town leads him to find
out that she not only has been lying about that but also about the fact
that she never married him. When Frank tussles with Lily in her yard
she applies for a restraining order, calling on the help of her father
(the esteemed judge Stoddard Bell) and his partner (lawyer Harmon
Cobb). The case fails and when Frank is found murdered later that night
Stoddard is arrested and Cobb has a defence case on his hands.
I decided to watch this film because I quite like TVM mysteries like Columbo and Perry Mason so I figured this courtroom drama would have some of the good qualities I enjoy; also the cast implied that it must have something going for it. The story appears simple enough and indeed that is just what it is the "twists" are dull and the whole thing lacks urgency or indeed any tension or interest. The slow pace and country swagger wouldn't have been a problem if the story had had any depth or vale but it didn't. It is so predictable and obvious rather I assumed that the detail and character must have been important but it wasn't either. A pretty poor outing all round.
The cast that offered so much potential turned out to be unable to raise the material. Matthau essentially trades on the easy, grumpy charm that he always has and is actually enjoyable despite looking as bored by the whole thing as I was. This was his third outing as this character and on the basis of this film I can understand why he threw it in after this. Morgan is OK but is pretty much on autopilot while Zimbalist is reasonably good if not totally convincing. The only one that the script requires to deliver emotions is a young Stahl, who does deliver and is actually pretty good. Hallier attempts to get a chemistry with Matthau (perhaps to ensure she comes back had the series continued) but she falls flat and gives an ordinary performance at best.
Overall this is a poor film. The case has no mystery, tension or urgency and just drifts along slowly. The detail and character is lacking as well, with only the emotional impact on John being interesting. The cast may be famous but only Stahl impresses while Matthau is just reliable. All round a fairly pointless and boring film.
The TV film is about man who raped girl and after 13 years comes to see her and son again. The plot is about who killed him, girl's father, known judge, girl herself or son.Walter Mathau is lawyer who is involved in defending them in court.
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