51 user 26 critic

The Star Chamber (1983)

Frustrated with a legal system gone haywire, a secret society of judges hires hitmen to snuff out criminals who escape courtroom justice - but one young judge questions the ethics of their vigilante system.


Peter Hyams


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




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


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


...Where justice is served with a vengeance. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Intended to be Fox's big summer film for 1983, the film was pulled from most theaters after two weeks due to poor box office and replaced with Mr. Mom (1983), a film the studio had no faith in, that eventually became a big hit. See more »


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 »


Detective Paul Mackay: Join the police department, see the world
Detective Kenneth Wiggan: No, it's join the navy and see the world
Detective Paul Mackay: Aw, shit. I joined the wrong thing
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 »


Referenced in 3 Things Must Die!: Crapping the Case (2021) See more »


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 »

User Reviews

Hollywood Justice
11 May 2008 | by bartningSee all my reviews

I thought the film's ending, contrary to others, showed something about why vigilante justice doesn't work. Moreover, though it gets there in a round-about way, it shows that justice has many complex twists and turns. As H.L. Mencken gets credit for saying, "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."

Hollywood justice leads us to believe that cops can't search garbage on the curb, but in reality, on the contrary, they don't even have to wait for the city's own truck to arrive to search one's "private" garbage. Moreover, in reality, cops violate the law with impunity. Judges work "buddy buddy" with cops, contrary to the portrayal in _The Star Chamber_.

Judges make a mistake in this movie, and they often make mistakes, too often. In this movie, they make mistakes with both criminals and innocents alike, and in reality they do likewise. However, in reality, in the "aughts" at least, DA's go after their "usual suspects," letting other violent criminals go in lieu of non-violent crimes where prosecutors don't have to worry about justice but have evidence of their liking, and law enforcement get away with whatever they want, including murdering people such as Sean Bell and Cau Tran in San Jose and New York, the latter in her own home.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

5 August 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Star Chamber See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,980,105, 7 August 1983

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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