A tenacious lawyer takes on a case involving a major company responsible for causing several people to be diagnosed with leukemia due to the town's water supply being contaminated, at the risk of bankrupting his firm and career.

Director:

Steven Zaillian

Writers:

Jonathan Harr (book), Steven Zaillian (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Travolta ... Jan Schlichtmann
Robert Duvall ... Jerome Facher
Tony Shalhoub ... Kevin Conway
William H. Macy ... James Gordon
Zeljko Ivanek ... Bill Crowley
Bruce Norris Bruce Norris ... William Cheeseman
John Lithgow ... Judge Walter J. Skinner
Kathleen Quinlan ... Anne Anderson
Peter Jacobson ... Neil Jacobs
Mary Mara ... Kathy Boyer
James Gandolfini ... Al Love
Stephen Fry ... Pinder
Dan Hedaya ... John Riley
David Thornton ... Richard Aufiero
Sydney Pollack ... Al Eustis
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Storyline

Jan Schlichtmann, a tenacious lawyer, is addressed by a group of families. When investigating the seemingly non-profiting case, he finds it to be a major environmental issue that has a lot of impact potential. A leather production company could be responsible for several deadly cases of leukemia, but also is the main employer for the area. Schlichtmann and his three colleagues set out to have the company forced to decontaminate the affected areas, and of course to sue for a major sum of compensation. But the lawyers of the leather company's mother company are not easy to get to, and soon Schlichtmann and his friends find themselves in a battle of mere survival. Written by Julian Reischl <julianreischl@mac.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Justice has its price.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The real Jerome Facher was thrilled at the way he was portrayed by Robert Duvall. See more »

Goofs

Al Eustis tells Jan he won't pay the amount of money to settle the lawsuit because once the amount is disclosed to the public, they'll file lawsuits as well. With all his years of experience in civil law, Jan should've known this is only an excuse because all contract settlement terms will remain confidential to any outside party, as the judge states at 1 hour and 30 minutes into the movie. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jan Schlichtmann: [narrating] It's like this. A dead plaintiff is rarely worth as much as a living, severely-maimed plaintiff. However, if it's a long slow agonizing death, as opposed to a quick drowning or car wreck, the value can rise considerably. A dead adult in his 20s is generally worth less than one who is middle aged. A dead woman less than a dead man. A single adult less than one who's married. Black less than white. Poor less than rich. The perfect victim is a white male professional, 40 ...
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Crazy Credits

The producers wish to thank the people of Boston, Waltham, Northbridge, Charlestown, Dedham, Brimfield and Palmer, MA. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cold Case: Breaking News (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Hard Workin' Man
(1978)
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Lyrics by Jack Nitzsche, Ry Cooder, Paul Schrader
Performed by Don Van Vliet (as Captain Beefheart)
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
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User Reviews

 
A Gripping Film...
22 May 2011 | by namashi_1See all my reviews

Based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Harr, 'A Civil Action', directed neatly by Steven Zaillian, is A Gripping Film, that brings a true-story on celluloid, efficiently. The Writing, at most places, is sharp, and the performances by Travolta and Duvall, are hugely effective.

'A Civil Action' is based on a true story of a court case about environmental pollution that took place in Woburn, Massachusetts in the 1970s.

It was a tragic time, for the people who lost their loved ones. And the cinematic version pays respect to them. The Court Scenes are sharply written and executed, while some scenes, especially towards the end, lose pace.

Steven Zaillian's Adpated Screenplay is mostly intense and gripping. His direction, is neat as well. Cinematography by Conrad L. Hall is picture perfect. Editing is fair.

Performance-Wise: Travolta and Duvall, both own the film. Travolta is flawless as the righteous attorney, while Duvall is powerful and menacing. Among other performances, William H. Macy and James Gandolfini stand on their own with note-worthy performances. John Lithgow is perfect, as ever.

On the whole, A Must See Film!


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 January 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Civil Action See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$70,079, 27 December 1998

Gross USA:

$56,709,981

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$56,709,981
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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