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Presumed Innocent (1990)

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As a lawyer investigates the murder of a colleague, he finds himself more connected to the crime than anyone else.

Director:

Alan J. Pakula

Writers:

Scott Turow (novel), Frank Pierson (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Harrison Ford ... Rusty Sabich
Brian Dennehy ... Raymond Horgan
Raul Julia ... Sandy Stern
Bonnie Bedelia ... Barbara Sabich
Paul Winfield ... Judge Larren Lyttle
Greta Scacchi ... Carolyn Polhemus
John Spencer ... Detective Dan Lipranzer
Joe Grifasi ... Tommy Molto
Tom Mardirosian ... Nico Della Guardia
Anna Maria Horsford ... Eugenia
Sab Shimono ... 'Painless' Kumagai
Bradley Whitford ... Jamie Kemp
Christine Estabrook ... Lydia 'Mac' MacDougall
Michael Tolan ... Mr. Polhemus
Madison Arnold Madison Arnold ... Sergeant Lionel Kenneally
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Storyline

Rozat Sabich - Rusty to most that know him, even in formal circumstances - is the Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Kindle County, Illinois. His wife, Barbara Sabich, has been struggling with focus on completing her Ph.D. dissertation in Mathemetics - a thus far ten year process - she who nonetheless is applying for a college teaching position. They are generally in a loving, supportive marriage, Barbara who seems to have gotten over Rusty's infidelity with his colleague Carolyn Polhemus, an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney. Carolyn is ambitious, she who, in part, used Rusty to try and climb up the ladder. Barbara will still throw the issue of Carolyn in his face whenever there are problems between the two. Rusty and Carolyn's affair is unknown to others in their personal and professional circles. Rusty is handed the most personal case of his career when his boss and mentor, Chief Prosecuting Attorney Raymond Horgan, assigns him the case to discover who killed Carolyn, her dead body... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Attraction. Desire. Deception. Murder. No one is ever completely innocent. See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 July 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Aus Mangel an Beweisen See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$22,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,718,981, 29 July 1990, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$86,303,188

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$221,300,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Winfield read the novel in the late 80s and loved it, telling his agent if a movie was ever made, he had to have the role of the judge. A few years later when the movie was actually in preproduction, Winfield campaigned hard for the part of the judge, impressing director Alan J. Pakula, who auditioned him and subsequently cast him. See more »

Goofs

On several occasions, Rusty Sabich refers to his boss, Raymond Horgan, as Raymond Horrigan. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Rusty Sabich: [voiceover] I'm a prosecutor. I'm part of the business of accusing, judging and punishing. I explore the evidence of a crime and determine who is charged, who is brought to this room to be tried before his peers. I present my evidence to the jury and they deliberate upon it. They must determine what really happened. If they cannot, we will not know whether the accused deserves to be freed or should be punished. If they cannot find the truth, what is our hope of justice?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK cinema version was cut by 10 secs for a 15 certificate to remove the lines "He was trying to fuck her to death" and "Paying to suck his cock in a public place". Video releases were upgraded to an 18 though the prints used were the same as the cut cinema version. See more »

Connections

Followed by The Burden of Proof (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Let The Drummer Loose
Written by Richard Wolf, Bret Mazur and Y.C. Smith
Produced by Richard Wolf and Bret Mazur
Performed by Y.C Smith
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Gripping Character-Driven Thriller
12 June 2005 | by JamesHitchcockSee all my reviews

When Carolyn Polhemus, a young prosecutor employed by the District Attorney of an American city, is found murdered, the job of investigating her murder is given to Rusty Sabich, one of her colleagues and her former lover. The DA, who is shortly coming up for re-election, wants quick results, but Sabich seems to be making slow progress. The DA is defeated in the election, and Sabich finds himself arrested by his successor and charged with the murder. The evidence against him initially seems strong, but more questions emerge during his trial. Is he really guilty? Is someone trying to frame him? If so, who? Was the murder connected to an investigation which Carolyn was pursuing into judicial corruption? Or was it connected to her complex sex life? We learn, through flashbacks, the story of her affair with Sabich and that she was promiscuous, sleeping with a number of influential men who could help her career, including not only Sabich but also the DA himself.

Besides being a legal thriller, "Presumed Innocent" is also a study in contrasts in character- either contrasts between two different persons or between the inner and outer person. Harrison Ford is often good at playing rather stolid individuals who have difficulty in showing their feelings but whose impassive exterior can hide powerful emotions. Norman Spencer in "What Lies Beneath" was one such individual; Sabich is another. Both are men whose life spins out of control after they become involved in extramarital affairs. Fortunately for Sabich, he has someone to take control on his behalf, his smooth and fluent defence lawyer Sandy Stern. Ford and Raul Julia, who plays Stern, form a double act in the second half of the film, both playing their parts very well. Sabich and Stern are both lawyers, but with very different characters and different approaches to the law. Sabich is determined to tell the truth as he sees it; the wily Stern sees the law as a game to be won on behalf of his client rather than a search for truth. If winning involves preventing the truth from emerging, so be it.

There is also a contrast between Sabich and his former lover Carolyn. While he is undemonstrative but inwardly emotional, she is outwardly seductive and flirtatious but inwardly cold-hearted. Both Sabich's wife Barbara, seemingly noble and forgiving, and the judge who tries his case, may have hidden secrets. Raymond Horgan, the DA, initially seems to be a friend of Sabich, but later turns against him when his self-interest dictates.

This concentration on character pays off, raising the film above the run-of-the-mill legal thriller. Contrasts between the various characters, and their inner conflicts, give rise to a gripping courtroom drama, one of the best in recent years. The pace of the film never flagged, and it held my attention throughout. The ending (which I will not reveal) has been criticised as either predictable or implausible. In my view it was perhaps unlikely, but neither completely unbelievable nor inconsistent with what has gone before. I certainly did not predict it. This is a tense and watchable drama. 7/10


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