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Primal Fear (1996)

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An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1,789 ( 443)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Molly Arrington
Bud Yancy
Tommy Goodman
Joey Pinero
Abel Stenner
Archbishop Rushman
Naomi Chance
Jack Connerman


Courtroom thriller about a slick, hotshot lawyer who takes the seemingly unwinnable case of a young altar boy accused of murdering an eminent catholic priest. Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Don't believe everything you see... See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief grisly violence, pervasive strong language and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

3 April 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Iskonski strah  »

Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$293,515 (USA) (26 July 1996)


$56,059,267 (USA) (16 August 1996)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The exterior police station where Martin Vail goes to see Aaron Stampler is the same exterior police station used for the TV series Hill Street Blues (1981) , for which director Gregory Hoblit was producer and director. See more »


The Chicago PD officers in the film are shown wearing American flags on the right shoulders of their uniforms. Chicago PD uniforms display the flag of the city of Chicago on the right shoulder. See more »


[first lines]
Martin Vail: On my first day of law school, my professor says two things. First was; "From this day forward, when your mother tells you she loves you, get a second opinion."
Jack Connerman: [chuckles] And?
Martin Vail: "If you want justice, go to a whorehouse. If you wanna get fucked, go to court."
See more »


Referenced in Big Wolf on Campus: The Pleasantville Strangler (1999) See more »


As Time Goes By
by Herman Hupfeld
See more »

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User Reviews

The Talented Mr.Norton
23 April 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Primal Fear is how Ed Norton left is mark to show that he is an acting force to go up ahead. Not only did he prove that he can run with the big dogs like Richard Gere but have the ability to play the audience like a piano. Primal Fear is a solid, courtroom drama that involves a hot shot defence lawyer who loves being the centre of attention and Richard Gere does a good job of being cool, cocky, suave and letting us know he can't lose. However he has his work cut out for him when he meets a young, geeky alter boy who has been involved of the murder of the priest and the game unfolds as he is up against a lot of big-wigs including his ex-girlfriend who happens to be the prosecution lawyer. Although by this time , the film would appear to be dated but the performances from the cast still make this well worth viewing. For those who enjoy court room drama's and thrillers.



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Plot hole??? ladyvengeancemusik
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Did they ever find Linda's body? cylindroid
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