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A Civil Action (1998)

PG-13 | | Drama | 8 January 1999 (USA)
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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.

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Writers:

(book), (screenplay)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Jan Schlichtmann
... Jerome Facher
... Kevin Conway
... James Gordon
... Bill Crowley
Bruce Norris ... William Cheeseman
... Judge Walter J. Skinner
... Anne Anderson
... Neil Jacobs
... Kathy Boyer
... Al Love
... Pinder
... John Riley
... Richard Aufiero
... 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:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 January 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Una acción civil  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$70,079, 27 December 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$56,702,901, 2 May 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Robert Duvall, Kathy Bates, and Sydney Pollack; and four Oscar nominees: William H. Macy, Kathleen Quinlan, John Lithgow, and John Travolta. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the movie a fork lift truck drives a skid of boxes of paper onto an elevator. The elevator doors start to close but then reopen. They close again once the fork lift driver hits the proper button. 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

References Blue Collar (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Take Me to the River
(1973)
Music and Lyrics by Al Green and Teenie Hodges
Performed by Talking Heads
Courtesy of Sire Records Company
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products and licensed courtesy of EMI Records Ltd.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Gripping Film...
22 May 2011 | by See 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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