The Verdict details
|Starring:||Paul Newman, James Mason, Jack Warden, Milo O'Shea, Lindsay Crouse, Edward Binns, Wesley Addy, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross, Strother Martin, Cloris Leachman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Charlotte Rampling|
|Directors:||George Roy Hill, Robert L. Rosen, Sidney Lumet|
|Studio:||20TH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT|
|Rental release:||Limited availability|
|Hearing impaired subtitles:||English|
Most helpful review
Newman deserved an Oscar for thisBy a customer from Wales , 20 Sep 2004
[Highly rated reviewer]Newman shows again just what a stunning character actor he is, not just a ?movie star? or former matinee idol. I think it was Michael Caine who once said the difference between a great movie star and a great movie actor is the star asks ?what will this film role do for me??, whilst the actor asks ?what can I do for this film role??. Well, here Newman doesn?t play the part of Frank Galvin, washed up lawyer; no, for the two hours screen time, Newman simply is, Frank Galvin, washed up lawyer.
It is a subtle, un-showy performance, and that?s what makes it so convincing as Newman gets right into the characters? skin. Galvin?s not a particularly sympathetic character, but still Newman draws you to him, and to begin to care about his possible fate.
This is definitely a character and dialogue driven film, which moves with a slow yet never tedious pace. The Boston winter landscapes and the dark and shadowy interiors both seem to mirror the bleak and lonely place that is Galvin?s soul. For here is a man at the end of his resources of deceit, who can no longer conceal even from himself that he is so far into his whiskey bottle that he can scarcely function as a human being, let alone as a lawyer.
An old friend Morrissey, (played by Jack Warden) has offered him an easy, medical malpractice suit ? the kind that the defendants? insurance company should settle readily out of court for a tidy sum; no publicity, damage limitation, job done. Only, the case is due in court in less than a week, Galvin?s forgotten all about it, and not even looked at the brief. When Morrissey turns up at Galvin?s offices to find out what?s happening, it looks like Galvin has blown his last friendship?.
Belatedly, Galvin seizes the case as a drowning man a straw. He needs the money, but he also needs a purpose, and the case becomes to him a chance to prove he is more than what he has become.
Jack Warden is worth a particular mention as Galvin?s friend, and subsequent reluctant but dogged assistant on the case. James Mason too is wonderful as the wholly oleaginous, expensive, financially limitlessly resourced, opposition lawyer.
To be frank, the actual courtroom finale is a little underwritten. Mason gets to score and win on all the legal and forensic points, and although Newman makes a moving summation, one is left with the unsatisfactory feeling that that the verdict would have been challenged and instantly overturned on appeal.
Never mind. The forensic plot is essentially secondary, a hook on which to hang Galvin?s story. Spend a couple of hours with him. I don?t think you will regret it.
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Mundane legal drama elevated by Paul NewmanBy BenLaw (32 reviews) , 22 Nov 2012My main dilemma with reviewing this title was in deciding whether this is a rather mundane legal drama, elevated by the stellar acting of a Hollywood legend close to his peak or whether this was a powerful character piece, let down by a script lacking tension. It's probably the former, but either way it equates to being - just - a 7/10 film.
This film has some pedigree. Directed by Sidney Lumet, but this is not 12 Angry Men or Dog Day Afternoon. Produced by Richard Zanuck, but this is not The Sting. Written by David Mamet, but this is not Glengarry Glen Ross. Great supporting roles from Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden and James Mason.
The big one of course is - starring Paul Newman. That this film is not a patch on The Hustler or Butch Cassidy or The Sting cannot be laid at his door. This is a wonderful performance, with hints of Fast Eddie Felson from The Hustler, Henry Gondorff from The Sting and a sign of things to come for his reprisal of Fast Eddie in The Color of Money. Newman has that most important but rarest of film qualities, charisma, and this shows itself both in his interactions with Rampling and Warden but also in powerful monologues in the court scenes. His is certainly not an entirely sympathetic character, alcoholic and at times violent, but Newman has the ability to be ever compelling. His peak as an actor was long, but here he is at or close to that peak.
Lumet's directing is nearly as compelling. The vast majority of shots are stationary and stark. He has a skill for making the mundane fascinating. Two shots in particular stick in the memory. First, the opening, and repeated, shot of Newman drinking and playing pinball with a street scene through the vast window behind him. Second, a domestic argument in the bedroom shown throughout with traditional angled shots of Newman and Rampling, suddenly switched to a perspective shot from outside the door, showing Newman's towering back and Rampling tiny in the distance, despite only being a few yards away.
The film, however, is fundamentally flawed. The script provides insufficient jeopardy. While Mamet's dialogue between the characters is frequently fascinating, the overall plot is lacking. The audience has insufficient reason to care overly about Newman's case. The case is described as complex but is overly simplistic. The legal action often fails to ring true, for example refusing an offer without reference to the client, or abusing the judge in his chambers.
So the central point of a legal drama, on which all else must be hung, has no real substance. Might this be better viewed as a character piece set in the context of a legal case? Again, the film ultimately fails in this regard. Newman's character is insufficiently drawn, has insufficient light and shade; despite Newman's best efforts it fails to ring true. We are expected to invest in the case as Newman's last chance at redemption, yet he works in a pleasant office and lives in a large apartment. Despite drinking copiously, there is never a sign of his work being affected.
If one simply read the script, this would be a 5/10 film, based on the flimsy legal plot and the failings in drawing Newman's character. But the glory of watching an actor of Newman's calibre working at his height adds an extra 2/10, and makes this a worthwhile film to watch.
Good acting and directing but plot implausibleBy a customer , 11 Aug 2012I found this disappointing. Much of the plot is too implausible, particularly when the screenplay departs from the book by Barry Reed. So it is difficult to suspend disbelief, although there is some good acting and filming.
In the book the judge admits the photocopy of the original admission record at the end of the trial. In the film he excludes it. In his long rambling commentary on the DVD the director claims this was in accordance with Massachusetts law. I wonder what Reed thought of that!
Well worth a watchBy a customer , 07 Jul 2012I was recommended this film by someone as a bit of a hidden gem as I know a lot of people who haven't seen it.
Like any Newman film you know before even watching it you don't have to worry about his performance as it will be in safe hands, this film was no different.
The film does start slow, and was wondering whether it was going to hold me but whereas most films peak too early this was the opposite and got stronger the longer the film developed.
I don't think it was brilliant, but is well worth a watch particularly if you are a fan of legal dramas as it holds its own in this category.
Respect to quality!By Cesca (47 reviews) from Bridge of Allan , 30 May 2011I'd never seen this film before today, and must have stumbled across it after Paul Newman died, among lots of reviews of his films.
It is faultless! Script, characters,plot, cinematography....I was hooked and delighted from start to finish.
This is so different from what we have now - cgi etc - but it demonstrates how superb a genuine film could be.
Watch it and be amazed!
Great filmBy LizB (71 reviews) from Nottingham , 04 Jul 2010A great film with Paul Newman in the lead as an off-the-rails lawyer - a part that suits him perfectly. A great supporting cast together with a gripping storyline make this a film not to be missed.
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