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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 ... Superior Court Judge Steven R. Hardin
Hal Holbrook ... Judge Benjamin Caulfield
Yaphet Kotto ... Det. 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 ... Det. James Wickman
Otis Day ... Stanley Flowers (as DeWayne Jessie)
Jack Kehoe ... Hingle
Larry Hankin ... Det. Kenneth Wiggan
Dick Anthony Williams ... Det. Paul Mackey
Margie Impert Margie Impert ... Louise Pacinni
Dana Gladstone ... Dept. Dist. Atty. 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 | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They are the most powerful members of our community. They have a shattering secret. Only one man is willing to stop them. [Video Australia] 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, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$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 dimly lit photograph of the nine Star Chamber judges appearing on the picture's main movie poster were nine people who were not actually the same nine actors who portrayed them in the movie. 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

Det. James Wickman: Did you eat?
Det. Harry Lowes: Yes.
Det. James Wickman: When?
Det. Harry Lowes: Yesterday.
Det. James Wickman: If you don't eat, you could die. You could die here. I don't want you to die here. If you die here, I have to fill out all kinds of paperwork. And you know how I hate to do paperwork.
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

References The Parallax View (1974) 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

 
They were making a cerebral vigilante movie and an action film broke out.
8 February 2003 | by Gary M. JamesSee all my reviews

When "The Star Chamber" was released to theaters in 1983, the movie bombed at the box office. I was lucky to see the movie in its second week of release. I have seen the movie several times on cable TV and video and even though the movie had some good ideas, it was ruined by turning it into a mindless, sometimes laughable action thriller.

The story (by Roderick Taylor with the script co-written by Taylor and director Peter Hyams) rose slightly above the usual vigilante movie clichés. The movie asks what if some judges, frustrated by the law that they are supposed to uphold, took matters into their own hands? Despite strong evidence that would incriminate the accused, the judges have to reject the evidence on technicalities, freeing the accused individuals.

Though the film has a strong cast, I though Michael Douglas was a little too young to play a judge (he was 39 at the time the movie was released). Hal Holbrook is essentially playing the same role he played in Hyams other "what if?" conspiracy thriller a few years earlier (Capricorn One): the veteran judge who is involved in this conspiracy and gets the Douglas character involved.

Yaphet Kotto does what he can in the underwritten role of the L.A. police detective investigating the case. Sharon Gless is wasted as Douglas' understanding wife. Veteran character actors Don Calfa and Joe Regalbuto (Frank Fontana from "Murphy Brown") played the unsympathetic, cartoon criminals who are on the Chamber's hit list.

Only James B. Sikking's performance as a victim's father who finds himself in prison when he tries to take the law into his own hands, came through. It was a very sympathetic and heartbreaking. In retrospect, it's interesting that Sikking played the SWAT commander on "Hill Street Blues" when the movie was released.

Hyams' films (including "2010", "The Presidio", "Outland", the previously mentioned "Capricorn One", even the Jean Claude Van Damme flicks "Timecop" and "Sudden Death") are interesting to look at. "The Star Chamber" is no exception. But many of his films tend to disappoint and, sadly, "The Star Chamber" is also on that list.

Update (July 2006): The current DVD cover of the movie is misleading. It has Michael Douglas holding a gun. In the film, his character never used a gun. What's up with the 20th Century Fox marketing department trying to mislead potential viewers of this movie?


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