6.2/10
448
14 user 6 critic

Trial and Error (1962)

The Dock Brief (original title)
An incompetent barrister is assigned to defend an accused wife murderer.

Director:

James Hill

Writers:

John Mortimer (play), Pierre Rouve (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Peter Sellers ... Morgenhall
Richard Attenborough ... Fowle
Beryl Reid ... Doris
David Lodge ... Bateson
Frank Pettingell ... Tuppy Morgan
Tristram Jellinek Tristram Jellinek ... Perkins
Audrey Nicholson Audrey Nicholson ... Morgenhall's Girl
Eric Woodburn Eric Woodburn ... Judge Banter
John Waite John Waite ... Clerk of the Court
Patrick Newell ... First Warder
Henry Kay ... Second Warder
Frank Thornton ... Photographer
Eric Dodson ... Examiner
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Storyline

An incompetent barrister is assigned to defend an accused wife murderer.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

This is NOT the Birdman of Alcatraz!..It's only Peter Sellers with his sly, sneaky style of humor that creeps up on you and the leaves you wanting more.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

5 August 1963 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Trial and Error See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although this film has been shown on British television many times in the 21st century, it has always been screened under its American title of "Trial And Error", not as "The Dock Brief", its original and proper title. Furthermore, it has been released on DVD in the UK under its American title as well. See more »

Goofs

While Morgenhall is waiting for his "first case," a series of crossword puzzles are shown, as "time passes." Unfortunately, the puzzles are not in numerical order --- their numbers go up and down, never continually increasing, as they should as the months and years go "passing by." See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Patch of Blue (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Worth it for the two leads
23 August 2006 | by david-friezeSee all my reviews

This neglected little film is based on a one-act play by John Mortimer, the creator of "Rumpole of the Bailey," and it extends some scenes (particularly the flashbacks to the lives of both the barrister and the accused) in ways that add little but running time. Beryl Reid, a very distinguished British stage actress, is given a role that requires her to do almost nothing but laugh hysterically. Oddly enough, the expansion of the script makes it feel even more theatrical than cinematic.

The real reasons to see this "Trial and Error" (aka "The Dock Brief") are the performances of Peter Sellers and Richard Attenborough. The latter was one of England's great character actors before he became a director and a Lord. Here, hidden behind a putty nose, he delivers an impeccable performance as a mediocre little man who kills his wife for a bit of quiet. And this was the period - just before head-turning international fame struck - when Sellers was offering one miraculous performance after another. His barrister is a subtle blend of self-delusional bluster and frightened awareness of his own inadequacy; the delicacy of this performance, especially the love he seems to feel for this little man who might prove his salvation, is a joy to behold. And the very last shot of the film, just before the final credits, made me laugh out loud - very silly, yet absolutely right.


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