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The Verdict (1982)

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A lawyer sees the chance to salvage his career and self-respect by taking a medical malpractice case to trial rather than settling.


Sidney Lumet


Barry Reed (based upon the novel by), David Mamet (screenplay)
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Newman ... Frank Galvin
Charlotte Rampling ... Laura Fischer
Jack Warden ... Mickey Morrissey
James Mason ... Ed Concannon
Milo O'Shea ... Judge Hoyle
Lindsay Crouse ... Kaitlin Costello Price
Edward Binns ... Bishop Brophy
Julie Bovasso ... Maureen Rooney
Roxanne Hart ... Sally Doneghy
James Handy ... Kevin Doneghy
Wesley Addy ... Dr. Towler
Joe Seneca ... Dr. Thompson
Lewis J. Stadlen Lewis J. Stadlen ... Dr. Gruber (as Lewis Stadlen)
Kent Broadhurst ... Joseph Alito
Colin Stinton ... Billy


Frank Galvin was once a promising Boston lawyer with a bright future ahead. An incident early in his career in which he was trying to do the right thing led to him being fired from the prestigious law firm with which he was working, almost being disbarred, and his wife leaving him. Continually drowning his sorrows in booze, he is now an ambulance chasing lawyer, preying on the weak and vulnerable, and bending the truth whenever necessary to make what few dollars he has, as he has only had a few cases in the last few years, losing the last four. His only friend in the profession is his now retired ex-partner, Mickey Morrissey, who gets Frank a case, his fee solely a percentage of what his clients are awarded. The case should net Frank tens of thousands of dollars by settling out of court, that money which would at least get him back on his feet. It is a negligence suit brought on behalf of Deborah Ann Kaye by her sister and brother-in-law, Sally and Kevin Doneghy, against St. Catherine... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Frank Galvin Has One Last Chance At A Big Case.




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

17 December 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Será justicia See more »


Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Tobin Bell: Uncredited, as a Courtroom Observer. See more »


Throughout the film, the length of time that the woman is said to have been in a coma is 4 years (the confrontation between the husband and Frank Galvin, for example), but during his cross examination of Kaitlin Price, Galvin gives the date of the operation as May 12, 1976. The date on Concannon's check to Laura Fischer is dated February 19, 1982, making it nearly 6 years since the woman went into the coma. See more »


Ed Concannon: I know how you feel. You don't believe me, but I do know. I'm going to tell you something that I learned when I was your age. I'd prepared a case and old man White said to me, "How did you do?" And, uh, I said, "Did my best." And he said, "You're not paid to do your best. You're paid to win." And that's what pays for this office... pays for the pro bono work that we do for the poor... pays for the type of law that you want to practice... pays for my whiskey... pays for your clothes... pays for ...
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Alternate Versions

NBC edited 33 minutes from this film for its 1985 network television premiere. See more »


Referenced in By Sidney Lumet (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

maybe not one of the very best I've seen from Lumet, but from Newman...
29 May 2006 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Sidney Lumet reaches into a certain style in this film that took me a few minutes to, if the word is right, adjust to. One might almost think the way he keeps the camera on a character or goes for the shots keeping the characters far away (long-shots) or in dark spaces (when not in the courtroom) or seemingly small in the scope of the areas around then, as detached. It is, but there-in lies his talents as a director, by letting the acting- slow but very sturdy and all based on David Mamet's script (also not one of his very best, but then again different from his plays). It's not a great film by the director as some have gone to lengths to write about, but it is one that is resonating further as I write this, and does successfully dig into further what it means to be a lawyer, or just trying to live, when odds are stacked against you. I'm almost reminded of a European director here, searching under the obvious in the story- points of which in the case that could just as well be on an OK episode of Law & Order- doing more of a character study than a full-on courtroom drama.

It helps, however, that Paul Newman is at the top of his game here, giving a performance that is textured, if that's a word to use as well, and kind of sad. He's playing Frank Gavin as much of a tragic figure as a real human being here, and there's a scene where he is in his office at a big moment of doubt "there is no other case, there is no other case". Newman is able to tap into what Lumet and Mamet have in the material superlatively, as if he knows how this character thinks. The early scenes show him as a low-level guy, ambulance chaser, who gets a case of a malpractice of a woman. In one of the most crucial and successful scenes in the film (for both director, writer and star), Gavin takes a couple of Polaroids of the girl in the hospital, seemingly just doing his work, but then has a pause, and the photos come into focus. This kind of change-of-thought has been done in other dramas to be sure, but here it really clicks with the pace, the mood and timing from Newman, and how this situation is given room to breathe.

If the rest of the film doesn't follow this same pattern it's not necessarily a full-on crutch. The courtroom scenes themselves are very good, with James Mason (among other British character actors) convincing in their roles of the more 'weighty' side of the court. Jack Warden adds some presence too as Gavin's partner (and adds a memory of Lumet's own classic 12 Angry Men). Only the sub-plot between Newman and Rampling seems just slightly off. Her character is necessary for the film, and there are one or two excellent scenes with her in it (particularly the one with him feeling most shaky before the trial). But her part is that of a more conventional picture, and her motivations are only made so clear as to not be totally believable. The final scene between her and Newman is maybe the best out of all of them, but it goes without saying that it's mainly a credit to him and Lumet, a kind of catharsis that is laid on that does add a fine point.

The Verdict is not really one of those films that is "over-rated" in the scope of things, and it's possibly more of the deserved Oscar nominated turns for Newman when compared to The Color of Money (good, not great there). It's worth seeing again, even as it is a different kind of courtroom picture, where the good and evil in man is not as revealed as in Lumet's first feature, but there are some poignant scenes of the need of redemption for a broken person.

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