6.5/10
25,351
184 user 116 critic

A Civil Action (1998)

PG-13 | | Drama | 8 January 1999 (USA)
Trailer
1:03 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
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 »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A man joins the political campaign of a smooth-operator candidate for president of the USA.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Kathy Bates
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

When the daughter of a well-known and well-respected base commander is murdered, an undercover detective is summoned to look into the matter and finds a slew of cover-ups at West Point.

Director: Simon West
Stars: John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe, James Cromwell
Mad City (1997)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A disgruntled security guard holds a school trip group hostage, while a news reporter forms a bond with him.

Director: Costa-Gavras
Stars: John Travolta, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Alda
Phenomenon (1996)
Drama | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An ordinary man sees a bright light descend from the sky, and discovers he now has super-intelligence and telekinesis.

Director: Jon Turteltaub
Stars: John Travolta, Kyra Sedgwick, Forest Whitaker
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

When Danny witnesses his stepfather Rick murder a man, Danny's father Frank has to protect his son from the greatest danger.

Director: Harold Becker
Stars: John Travolta, Nick Loren, James Lashly
Class Action (1991)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An attorney representing a traumatized accident victim finds that his opponent is a very familiar defense attorney - his own daughter.

Director: Michael Apted
Stars: Gene Hackman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Colin Friels
Michael (1996)
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Two tabloid reporters checking out a report of the Archangel Michael living with an old woman find that it's true. But that's not the only surprise.

Director: Nora Ephron
Stars: John Travolta, Andie MacDowell, William Hurt
Edit

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
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 January 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Una acción civil See more »

Edit

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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Steven Zaillian adapted the screenplay with nobody else but Robert Duvall in mind for the role of Jerome Facher. See more »

Goofs

In the Crane vs. Massachusetts General Hospital case with the wheelchair plaintiff, the defense lawyer writes a settlement offer for $1.2 million on a Post-It note with a Mont Blanc tapered tip pen but the scene cuts back to the amount being written with a flat top Waterman. 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 ...
See more »

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

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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Skillful rendition of the book on film.
31 January 1999 | by toenailsSee all my reviews

How to interpret viewer comments on this film:

"Slow-moving" = ...no car chases.

"poor acting" = ...no karate chops

"too long" = ...longer than a music video

"dull" = ...See "Slow-moving"

"A Civil Action" was a fine book, and the film does it justice. No, it's not perfect, but it is emotionally moving, and faithful to the non-fiction account of the case.

Some of the heart-rending short scenes featuring parents of the child-victims (the father at the deposition; the parents trying to revive the dying child in the car) were absolute masterpieces. There should be special Academy Awards available for brief scenes of this kind that are too "small" for Best Supporting Actor awards, but are, in themselves, worthy of acclaim.


12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 184 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed