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The Chamber (1996)

 -  Drama | Thriller  -  11 October 1996 (USA)
5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 9,220 users   Metascore: 45/100
Reviews: 41 user | 36 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

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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(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Chamber (1996)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
E. Garner Goodman
...
Rollie Wedge / Donnie Cayhall (as Raymond Barry)
...
Sgt. Clyde Packer
...
Nora Stark
...
Gov. David McAllister
...
Judge Flynn F. Slattery
...
Atty. Gen. Roxburgh
...
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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Time is running out.

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

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:

ITL 226,355,000 (Italy) (30 May 1997)

Gross:

ITL 419,247,000 (Italy) (6 June 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of Rollie Wedge was beefed up considerably from the novel with the aim that Jack Nicholson would play him. Things didn't quite go according to plan and the part went to the lesser known actor, Raymond J. Barry, instead. 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

Sam Cayhall: Save me. Your don't look like you can save a turkey from Thanksgiving.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Conspiracy Theory (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Temenos (Here Come The Shakes)
Written by Shelby Tate
Performed by Remy Zero
Courtesy of DGC Records
By Arrangement with MCA Special Markets & Products
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User Reviews

A wonderful adaptation of a wonderful novel
14 October 1998 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Nothing annoys me more than sitting through a film I consider to be very good, or perhaps even excellent, and then reading reviews about it afterwards that are wholly negative and often very untrue in their descriptions. "The Chamber," released in 1996, and based on John Grisham's novel from two years earlier, is one such movie. Having read both the book and having seen the film, I draw two conclusions. The first is that I believe the movie to be as good (Perhaps even better) than Grisham's novel. The second is that the movie is a great piece of film-making; one of the most mature, thoughtful and intelligent to have come out of Hollywood in the past few years, especially when one takes into account that it's dealing with some very complex themes and issues. Gene Hackman plays Sam Cayhall, the racist bigot from America's ole' South, whose been on death row for several decades, following his involvement in the unintentional murder of a Jewish family. Cayhall has a month to live, and, just as even he has given up on any hope of a successful appeal, the old man gets a visit from his grandson lawyer, Adam Hall (Competently played by Chris O'Donnell). Adam is determined to get his grandfather off the row (Much to Sam's annoyance), and sets about digging up his family's past in the hope of discovering the truth surrounding the crime that Sam committed. The truly great thing about "The Chamber" (And perhaps something which John Grisham, its author, deserves the credit for) is that right from the opening scenes, we are never unsure about Sam's guilt. He's as guilty as sin. This is unlike Tim Robbin's "Dead Man Walking," (A film which many critics claim is superior and are forever comparing "The Chamber" to), where the audience is almost wrongfully 'Conned' into believing its protagonist's innocence, presumably in the hope of us sympthasing with him all the more. But, with "The Chamber," although Sam Cayhall is a spiteful, hateful and guilty sinner, we sympathise with him because we sympathise with O'Donnells all-too-true belief that he still doesn't deserve to die. After all, how can someone whose been brought up and raised in such a dreadfully racist and hateful environment turn out to be any better than Sam? The film is an important character study, as much as what it is a study of such afore-mentioned important themes(s). It never shies away from dealing with issues such as racism, making the 'Showdown' scene towards the end between Cayhall and one of his sickening 'Admirers' to be all the more brilliant. The film has faults, sure. For instance, Faye Dunaway as Adam's alcoholic Aunt struggles manically, and gives a much too dramatic and theatrical performance for this film. Gene Hackman also has some trouble in a very difficult role, although he's much more effective in the later scenes, where he begins to realise his mistakes. Perhaps the film's biggest mistake is in its failure to develop a proper character out of 'Rollie Wedge' (Robert Prosky), the man who may or may not have been involved in the terrible murder that Sam is now on death row for. I rarely cry in movie, but I cry every time I watch "The Chamber;" not just during the suitably hard-to-watch and claustrophobic closing scenes, but also during the final sequences between Sam and his grandaughter. It's a truly touching piece of film-making, and a very thought provoking and intelligent one. If only a better director had been at the helm, and the odd performance had been touched up a bit, this picture would have been an instant classic.


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