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The Star Chamber (1983)

Disgusted with criminals escaping the judicial system via technicalities, an idealistic young judge investigates an alternative method for punishing the guilty.

Director:

Peter Hyams

Writers:

Roderick Taylor (screenplay), Peter Hyams (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Douglas ... Steven Hardin
Hal Holbrook ... Benjamin Caulfield
Yaphet Kotto ... Detective Harry Lowes
Sharon Gless ... Emily Hardin
James Sikking ... Dr. Harold Lewin (as James B. Sikking)
Joe Regalbuto ... Arthur Cooms
Don Calfa ... Lawrence Monk
John DiSanti ... Detective James Wickman
Otis Day ... Stanley Flowers (as DeWayne Jessie)
Jack Kehoe ... Hingle
Larry Hankin ... Detective Kenneth Wiggan
Dick Anthony Williams ... Detective Paul Mackay
Margie Impert Margie Impert ... Louise Rachmil
Dana Gladstone ... Martin Hyatt
David Proval ... Officer Nelson
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Storyline

Disgusted with criminals escaping the judicial system via technicalities, an idealistic young judge investigates an alternative method for punishing the guilty. Written by <bentley@access.digex.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The only one willing to stop them is one of their own. And when you know who they really are, you'll wish you didn't. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 August 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ein Richter sieht rot See more »

Filming Locations:

Long Beach, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,980,105, 7 August 1983

Gross USA:

$5,555,305

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,555,305
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The picture's closing credits declare that the film was dedicated "For George-Ann". George-Ann is the first name of George-Ann Spota who is the wife of the movie's director Peter Hyams. The film references her last name with the naming of a character called Sergeant Spota (Robert Costanzo) something which is a trademark of director Hyams. See more »

Goofs

After deciding to correct the mistake the Star Chamber has made, Judge Hardin is seen in his dark office. The lights are off except for the desk lamp he is using. The office door is open showing the adjacent courtroom where Judge Caulfield appears, calling Hardin. When Hardin exits his office, entering the courtroom, his office is brightly lit. See more »

Quotes

Judge Benjamin Caulfield: It's always been a game, only now the bad guys have a stronger team, got a better draft.
Superior Court Judge Steven R. Hardin: You know I took a lot of notes in your class and I can never remember you saying anything quite like that.
Judge Benjamin Caulfield: You should have taken fewer notes and listened more.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Actress Fritzi Burr's performance as Judge Alice McCardle was accidentally left of the movie's credits. The 10th August 1983 edition of show-business trade paper 'Daily Variety' reports that Peter Hyams, producer Frank Yablans and the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation ran an advertisement apologizing for this mistake and oversight and praising Burr for her acting contribution to the movie. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Like a Brother (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

New Church
Performed by The Lords of the New Church
Written by Brian James (uncredited) and Stiv Bators (uncredited)
courtesy of IRS Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Intelligent debate film but has a clumsy conclusion
11 January 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Judge Hardin has a problem. He is beginning to be disillusioned by the legal system he represents and is repeatedly forced to release people who are clearly guilty due to legal technicalities set-up to protect the innocent. When the torture and murder of children comes before his court he is forced to release the suspects leading him to join a select court of Judges who are self appointed to a shadowy group that pass judgment behind closed doors before employing a hitman to carry out the sentence. However it doesn't take long before developments show Hardin the limitations of this alternative version of justice.

The story here is in two parts. First we have the investigation side where Detective Lowes and others try to catch the child killers, but we also have the side with Hardin and the other Judges. The latter allows the film to debate the issues of justice and the legal system using the former as the catalyst for the debate. Both strands are fascinating when separate however when the two come together for the conclusion it doesn't quite work. The film is then forced to pick a side and manages to fudge it a bit and lose it's way. Up until then it's a great piece of work that makes intelligent argument both in attack and defence of the legal system. The film is still relevant today - in the UK we recently saw the alleged Lawrence killers walk free despite overwhelming evidence due to technicalities - in fact it is probably more relevant than it was then.

The cast are roundly good - Douglas is good despite his slight scout style character. Holbrook does one of the best performances I've seen him give and Kotto adds some real class. It also gives small roles to Gless and David Proval (Ritchie in The Sopranos). The only weak link are the bug-eyed performances of suspected murders Monk and Cooms who are almost like cartoon characters at times.

Overall an intelligent film that manages to hold a clever debate before blowing it with a ham-fisted conclusion.


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