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A First Amendment scholar is recruited by an attorney to sue a publishing company after a hit man commits a triple murder by allegedly following a how-to manual the book company published. They set out to put the company on trial for providing blueprints for would-be murderers. Arguing that the publisher is not protected by the First Amendment, the crusading lawyers seek monetary damages for the victims' families. Written by
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Admittedly, "Deliberate Intent" is not the greatest film ever made, but a 5.4 rating seems a little harsh.
The true story concerns the lawsuit against Paladin Press for their handbook "Hit Man," which helped a man kill his family.
A first amendment attorney, Timothy Hutton, who normally would be on the side of the publisher, is approached by another attorney (Ron Rifkin) who wants to take on Paladin. Up to that time, no publisher had ever been successfully sued for content, as publishers depend on the first amendment to publish their material.
Granted, it can be a slippery slope, but this case was not only very interesting but thought-provoking, calling into issue the responsibility of the publisher. Is it enough to say, I just published the book, collect the money, and not care about the content? This seems like it was a TV movie and not particularly well put together. It would have made a great feature film and could have used some extra time to flesh out the story a little. Also, the Supreme Court scene was not well researched, so it was done incorrectly.
Worth seeing for the story and for Timothy Hutton, who gives an excellent performance.
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