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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?


Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the role of Aaron/Roy. He would later go on to play a different DID patient in The Crowded Room. See more »


In opening credits ties Martin's bow-tie (same as tying your shoes) and does so over the points of his butterfly collar. He turns to the bathroom mirror where he checks it and adjusts the bow-tie, but leaves it holding down the points, and nearly walks out the door. But when he turns with an afterthought the points are instantly positioned correctly. 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 The Real Blonde (1997) See more »


Pammy Slam
Written & Performed by Steve Porcaro
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User Reviews

Edward norton does an excellent job
9 November 2004 | by (new york,new york) – See all my reviews

I had just gotten done seeing the movie Fight Club when a relative of mine said " If you like that movie, you'll like Primal Fear." I didn't believe him, because I had believed that Fight Club was the best movie on the face of the planet. Well, he just so happened to have a copy of Primal Fear with him. I watched it and was amazed. I was speechless.The movie has so many twists! I was convinced that it was one of the best movies I had ever seen. Gere's performance is average. I say this because it seems that in many movies he plays the same cocky character. Linney's monologue in the courtroom is mesmerizing . It was just great. And Norton? Well this may be one of his best performances ever. The fact that this was made during the starting of his acting career was unbelievable. It was a great film and Edward norton does an excellent job

154 of 195 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Plot hole??? ladyvengeancemusik
Sick and sad message oregondanne
Did they ever find Linda's body? cylindroid
And the oscar goes to.... phi413
Who was the 'real' Aaron? ddb540
Meaning of the title...? mattdavefenton
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