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Primal Fear (1996)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  3 April 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 122,616 users   Metascore: 47/100
Reviews: 239 user | 79 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

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



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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
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)


JPY 197,208,300 (Japan) (6 December 1996)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When trying out for the role of the altar boy, Edward Norton went into the audition in character. Meeting with casting director Deborah Aquila, he quietly stuttered as Aaron and then suddenly turned into Roy, roughly grabbing her to the point where she was worried about her own safety. See more »


It is stated by several characters that a plea cannot be changed mid trial. However, it is entirely possibly to change a plea before sentencing. See more »


[first lines]
Marty: 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?
Marty: "If you want justice, go to a whorehouse. If you wanna get fucked, go to court."
See more »


Featured in The Hour: Episode #7.159 (2011) See more »


from Requiem
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (as W.A. Mozart)
Performed by Wiener Sängerknaben (as Wiener Sängerknaben)
Courtesy of Capriccio
by arrangement with Source/Q
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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Recent Posts
Sick and sad message oregondanne
Plot hole??? ladyvengeancemusik
Did they ever find Linda's body? cylindroid
Who was the 'real' Aaron? ddb540
And the oscar goes to.... phi413
Meaning of the title...? mattdavefenton
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