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Primal Fear (1996)

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An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.

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(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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1,552 ( 260)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Martin Vail
... Janet Venable
... Shaughnessy
... Shoat
... Molly
... Aaron / Roy
... Yancy
... Goodman
... Pinero
... Stenner
... Martinez
... Rushman
... Naomi
... Alex
... Connerman
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Storyline

Courtroom thriller about a slick, hotshot lawyer who takes the seemingly unwinnable case of a young altar boy accused of murdering an eminent catholic priest. Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief grisly violence, pervasive strong language and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

3 April 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Iskonski strah  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$293,515, 26 July 1996

Gross USA:

$56,116,183

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$102,616,183
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Marsden was considered for the role of Aaron Stampler. See more »

Goofs

Martin tells Tommy "Aaron" should be in a psychiatric hospital not in jail, murder in the first degree sentences are sent to prison not jail. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[while getting dressed as Naomi helps him]
Martin Vail: On my first day of law school, my professor says two things. First was: from this day forward, when your mother tells you she loves you, get a second opinion.
Jack Connerman: [chuckles] And?
Martin Vail: If you want justice, go to a whorehouse. If you wanna get fucked, go to court.
See more »

Connections

Featured in 20 to 1: Hollywood Twists (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Deceive Me (Please Don't Go)
by Chuck Willis
Performed by Johnny Otis
Courtesy of Alligator Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not just another court room drama
26 January 2005 | by See all my reviews

I was convinced that "Primal Fear" would be the type of courtroom drama that Hollywood seems to use to pave the streets with. You know what I mean: Someone gets wrongly accused of some mischief, he can't pay a lawyer, but of course there is one who is really interested in the case and he is prepared to defend the poor guy anyway. The defender finds some wholes in the police investigation or in the statement of the other party and knows to prove the innocence of his client and even get a big indemnity. Well, I was wrong, for once this was a courtroom drama that had a bit more to offer than the usual story line and twists. In fact, this was even a very enjoyable movie.

Even though I'm not really a fan of Richard Gere (I'm not a woman, so no I don't like him because the way he looks, I only look at his acting), I have to admit that this time he really did a very good job as the slick, media-friendly, arrogant lawyer Martin Vail. Still, in my opinion the real star in this movie is Edward Norton. He's really excellent as the altar boy who is accused of murdering a Catholic bishop.

For once the story isn't as predictable as usual. At first the case seems rather clear: an altar boy is running away from the home of the bishop, with blood all over his clothes. No doubt about it you think, he did it, case closed, next movie! But than the first interesting twist in the movie appears: Yes, he was at the murder scene, but he can't remember anything about the grisly murder, because at that exact moment he got a blackout. He's convinced that there was a third person in the room. That third person must have killed the bishop, he's innocent. His lawyer tries to prove the third man theory in the court room, but as the process comes nearer to the end, some new evidence will make everything a lot clearer and more interesting...

As I already said, this movie is more than just worth a watch, thanks to the rather innovative story line and characters. For once, this movie didn't annoy me more than I could ever like it. That's already worth a lot, so I give it a well deserved 8/10.


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