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A Civil Action (1998)

 -  Drama  -  8 January 1999 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 20,809 users   Metascore: 68/100
Reviews: 176 user | 108 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)

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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 Bratton, who also headed the LAPD and the NYPD. See more »

Goofs

In the Crane vs. Massachusetts General Hospital case with the wheelchair plaintiff, the defense lawyer writes a settlement offer for $1.2 million on a Post-It note with a Mont Blanc tapered tip pen but the scene cuts back to the amount being written with a flat top Waterman. 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

References Quick Draw McGraw (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

Theme
from A Summer Place (1959)
Music by Max Steiner
Performed by Percy Faith and His Orchestra (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Skillful rendition of the book on film.
31 January 1999 | by (New Bern, NC USA) – See all my reviews

How to interpret viewer comments on this film:

"Slow-moving" = ...no car chases.

"poor acting" = ...no karate chops

"too long" = ...longer than a music video

"dull" = ...See "Slow-moving"

"A Civil Action" was a fine book, and the film does it justice. No, it's not perfect, but it is emotionally moving, and faithful to the non-fiction account of the case.

Some of the heart-rending short scenes featuring parents of the child-victims (the father at the deposition; the parents trying to revive the dying child in the car) were absolute masterpieces. There should be special Academy Awards available for brief scenes of this kind that are too "small" for Best Supporting Actor awards, but are, in themselves, worthy of acclaim.


4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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