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A Civil Action (1998)

PG-13 | | Drama | 8 January 1999 (USA)
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The families of children who died, sue two companies for dumping toxic waste: a tort so expensive to prove, the case could bankrupt their lawyers.

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(book), (screenplay)
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 ...
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Neil Jacobs
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Pinder
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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

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Release Date:

8 January 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Una acción civil  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$70,079, 27 December 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$56,702,901, 2 May 1999
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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Marlon Brando turned down the role of Jerry Facher. See more »

Goofs

With all his years of experience of practicing civil law, Jan would have known the settlement terms he was asking was completely unrealistic and unreasonable. 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 ...
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in A Civil Action: In Pusuit of Justice (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Take Me to the River
(1973)
Music and Lyrics by Al Green and Teenie Hodges
Performed by Talking Heads
Courtesy of Sire Records Company
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products and licensed courtesy of EMI Records Ltd.
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User Reviews

 
A Gripping Film...
22 May 2011 | by See all my reviews

Based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Harr, 'A Civil Action', directed neatly by Steven Zaillian, is A Gripping Film, that brings a true-story on celluloid, efficiently. The Writing, at most places, is sharp, and the performances by Travolta and Duvall, are hugely effective.

'A Civil Action' is based on a true story of a court case about environmental pollution that took place in Woburn, Massachusetts in the 1970s.

It was a tragic time, for the people who lost their loved ones. And the cinematic version pays respect to them. The Court Scenes are sharply written and executed, while some scenes, especially towards the end, lose pace.

Steven Zaillian's Adpated Screenplay is mostly intense and gripping. His direction, is neat as well. Cinematography by Conrad L. Hall is picture perfect. Editing is fair.

Performance-Wise: Travolta and Duvall, both own the film. Travolta is flawless as the righteous attorney, while Duvall is powerful and menacing. Among other performances, William H. Macy and James Gandolfini stand on their own with note-worthy performances. John Lithgow is perfect, as ever.

On the whole, A Must See Film!


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