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The Chamber (1996)

A young man fresh out of law school tries to win a reprieve for his racist grandfather who is on death row.

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
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E. Garner Goodman
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Rollie Wedge / Donnie Cayhall (as Raymond Barry)
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Sgt. Clyde Packer
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Nora Stark
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Gov. David McAllister
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Judge Flynn F. Slattery
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Atty. Gen. Roxburgh
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Wyn Lettner
Greg Goossen ...
J.B. Gullitt (as Gregory Goossen)
Seth Isler ...
Marvin B. Kramer
...
Ruth Kramer
Sid Johnson ...
Josh Kramer
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Storyline

Having survived the hatred and bigotry that was his Klansman grandfather's only legacy, young attorney Adam Hall seeks at the last minute to appeal the old man's death sentence for the murder of two small Jewish boys 30 years before. Only four weeks before Sam Cayhall is to be executed, Adam meets his grandfather for the first time in the Mississippi prison which has held him since the crime. The meeting is predictably tense when the educated, young Mr. "Hall" confronts his venom-spewing elder, Mr. "Cayhall," about the murders. The next day, headlines run proclaiming Adam the grandson who has come to the state to save his grandfather, the infamous Ku Klux Klan bomber. While the old man's life lies in the balance, Adam's motivation in fighting this battle becomes clear as the story unfolds. Not only does he fight for his grandfather, but perhaps for himself as well. He has come to heal the wounds of his own father's suicide, to mitigate the secret shame he has always felt for the ... Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

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Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent images and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 October 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Kammer  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,612,095 (USA) (13 October 1996)

Gross:

$14,551,359 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Val Kilmer was announced for the lead after the departure of Brad Pitt. See more »

Goofs

As Adam watches, the digital LED clock in his hotel room changes from 3:59 to 4:00 am, and makes a faint click as it does. Clocks of this kind do not make such sounds. See more »

Quotes

Nora Stark: You're in Mississippi now - land of the secrets. There are bodies buried everywhere.
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Soundtracks

Fine Mi Lassa
Composed by Vincenzo Bellini
Arranged by Trevor Jones
Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
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User Reviews

 
an attorney tries to get his grandfather off death row
10 September 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Chris O'Donnell and Gene Hackman star in "The Chamber," a 1996 film featuring Faye Dunaway, Robert Prosky, and Lela Rochon.

O'Donnell plays Adam Hall, a young man just out of law school who takes on the case of a KKK member about to be executed for a bombing years earlier that took the life of two boys. Their father, who lost his leg, later committed suicide. The man in question, Sam Cayhall (Hackman), is due to die in the gas chamber, as he was convicted before 1984 and therefore isn't eligible for the chair. He's also Adam's grandfather.

The bombing and the Klan history in the Cayhall line has wrecked Adam's family. They changed their name after the incident, and his father committed suicide and left his son a note with instructions to clean everything up before his mother got home. His aunt (Faye Dunaway) is a socialite who still lives in the south and has never told anyone who she is but has suppressed her pain with alcohol. Adam has no use for his grandfather, but he believes someone else made the bomb and wants to find out what really happened.

The movie is based on a John Grisham novel and, despite the reviews, I thought it was good and powerful, mostly thanks to the performance of Gene Hackman. Somehow, he manages to create a real human being - a bigot, a Klan member, a killer, but somehow human. His monologue at the end of the film made me cry, which is ridiculous because he was a terrible man.

Faye Dunaway was great; Chris O'Donnell is pleasant enough but he never seemed to me movie star material. I would have preferred to see someone like Matthew McConaughey, someone with a little fire, in this role.

This is a story of a history of hate, the ghosts of the dead, politics, and a search for closure. Compelling.


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