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A Civil Action (1998)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  8 January 1999 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 21,638 users   Metascore: 68/100
Reviews: 176 user | 107 critic | 26 from Metacritic.com

The families of children who died sue two companies for dumping toxic waste: a tort so expensive to prove, the case could bankrupt their lawyer.

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(book), (screenplay)
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Title: A Civil Action (1998)

A Civil Action (1998) on IMDb 6.5/10

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Bruce Norris ...
William Cheeseman
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Neil Jacobs
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Pinder
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Richard Aufiero
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Al Eustis
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Storyline

Jan Schlichtmann, a tenacious lawyer, is addressed by a group of families. When investigating the seemingly non-profiting case, he finds it to be a major environmental issue that has a lot of impact potential. A leather production company could be responsible for several deadly cases of leukemia, but also is the main employer for the area. Schlichtmann and his three colleagues set out to have the company forced to decontaminate the affected areas, and of course to sue for a major sum of compensation. But the lawyers of the leather company's mother company are not easy to get to, and soon Schlichtmann and his friends find themselves in a battle of mere survival. Written by Julian Reischl <julianreischl@mac.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Justice has its price.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 January 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Una acción civil  »

Box Office

Budget:

$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£332,872 (UK) (9 April 1999)

Gross:

$56,702,901 (USA) (30 April 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the phone conversation in the radio booth, a confused Schlictmann asks Anne Anderson, "Is this Rikki?" Rikki Klieman is a real-life lawyer and former love interest of Schlictmann's in the true-to-life book. Since 1999, she's been married to Boston's former police chief William J. Bratton, who also headed the LAPD and the NYPD. See more »

Goofs

Jan races his Porsche toward Woburn to meet with the families for the first time. He zooms along one distinctive stretch of road and in the next scene he is being given a speeding ticket on a bridge. When he leaves Woburn, he is seen racing along the same stretch of road, only to be stopped again on the same bridge. The bridge has moved from being after the stretch of road heading into Woburn, to being after the same stretch when driving away from Woburn. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jan Schlichtmann: [narrating] It's like this. A dead plaintiff is rarely worth as much as a living, severely-maimed plaintiff. However, if it's a long slow agonizing death, as opposed to a quick drowning or car wreck, the value can rise considerably. A dead adult in his 20s is generally worth less than one who is middle aged. A dead woman less than a dead man. A single adult less than one who's married. Black less than white. Poor less than rich. The perfect victim is a white male professional, 40 ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The producers wish to thank the people of Boston, Waltham, Northbridge, Charlestown, Dedham, Brimfield and Palmer, MA. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 56th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Hard Workin' Man
(1978)
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Lyrics by Jack Nitzsche, Ry Cooder, Paul Schrader
Performed by Don Van Vliet (as Captain Beefheart)
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Good, but not great
5 September 2004 | by (Denmark) – See all my reviews

As far as courtroom dramas go, this is by no means great. I've seen plenty of them, as American law system interests me. The greatest would arguably be A Few Good Men... this is pretty much in the order end of the spectrum, being a fairly slight courtroom drama. It has just enough good points to it to keep it above average, but only *just* enough. I think the way the story was told was fairly standard, but good anyway. I liked Travolta's voice-overs, and liked the fact that it's not the typical cliché-like ending, where, against all odds, the case is won. I won't tell you exactly how it ends, but the ending is pretty good, and not as predictable as many of the courtroom dramas are. The plot is good, and develops, at least in the beginning, pretty good, and with a good pace. However, somewhere in the last half, the pace drops and you find yourself being bored with the film. Too bad, since it started out so promising. The acting is very good; Duvall and Travolta are obviously good, but Macy and Lithgow were surprisingly good(not that they're typically bad, though). The supporting cast also do their jobs well. The characters are well-written, credible, and well-casted. The humor, though rare in the film, is mostly good. All in all, a pretty good courtroom drama, based on a true story, and a basic story of inexperienced against experienced, as they say in the featurette on the DVD. I recommend it to fans of courtroom dramas, and fans of any of the actors. 7/10


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