Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #56: Strictly Legal

Thirteen of My Favorite Movies With Legal Settings

Below are some of my favorite films dealing with the law. Some are rather famous, while others are obscure. If a movie isn't on this list, it's because of one of the following:

1. So many films, only 13 spots

2. I've never seen it

3. Saw it, but didn't like it

When compiling this list, I realized that there are a quite a few legal films that I haven't seen (either all the way through or at all). I've already made a mental list of movies in this genre that I will be checking out at some point in the future.

Having said that, what are some of your favorite legal films?

1. 12 Angry Men (1957)- Featuring one of the best casts ever assembled (Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, Ed Begley, etc.), this film concerns a lone juror (Fonda) who tries to convince the 11 others to reconsider their verdict of guilty in a murder trial involving a Hispanic youth accused of stabbing his abusive father to death. Although nearly all of it takes place in a jury room, 12 Angry Men is absolutely riveting.

2. The Accused (1988)- This modern classic features Jodie Foster's first Oscar-winning role as a party girl who becomes a victim of a gang-rape.

3. Anatomy of A Murder (1959)- This Oscar nominee involving a soldier accused of killing the man who raped his wife is based on a real life incident that occurred in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Along with James Stewart, George C. Scott, Lee Remick, Eve Arden and Ben Gazzara, this movie also features a cameo by Duke Ellington (who also composed the jazzy score).

4. And Justice For All (1979)- A seriocomic indictment of the U.S. judicial system, this movie features Al Pacino as a crusading attorney, Jack Warden as suicidal judge, and John Forsythe as a

5. The Caine Mutiny (1954)- Set during WW II, this classic (based on the Herman Wouk novel) centers around a mutiny that occurs aboard a ficticious ship and the subsequent court martial of the two officers involved. Starring Humphrey Bogart as the "spit-and-polish" Captain Queeg (who may or may not be mentally unbalanced), Fred MacMurray as the cynical communications officer, and Jose Ferrer as the attorney who defends the mutineers, this movie belongs on any "Best of" list of not only legal dramas, but military films as well.

6. Inherit the Wind (1960)- Based on the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial (which dealt with a teacher accused of teaching evolution in the classroom), this classic features two acting legends (Spencer Tracy and Frederic March) at the top of their game. No matter what your religious beliefs are, this film is a must-see. Along with Tracy and March, this movie also features Gene Kelly (cast against type as a cynical newspaperman) and future Bewitched star Dick York (as the teacher on trial).

7. Knock On Any Door (1949)- This film features Humphrey Bogart as an attorney defending a young hoodlum (John Derek) accused of killing a cop. Although today John Derek is mostly known as the Svengali-like director who married a trio of blonde beauties (Ursula Andress, Linda Evans, and Bo Derek), this movie proved that he had some acting skills.

8. My Cousin Vinny (1991)- This comedy stars Joe Pesci as an inexperienced New York lawyer who travels to the South to defend his younger cousin who's accused of murder and his cousin's friend (who is charged as an accessory). Along with Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, this film also features the final role of Fred Gwynne (better known as Herman Munster) as the no-nonsense judge.

9. Philadelphia (1993)- Starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks as an AIDS stricken attorney who sues his firm for discrimination after he is fired, this poignant drama also features Denzel Washington as the homophobic lawyer who takes on the case and must confront his own fears and prejudices.

10. Reversal of Fortune (1990)- Based on the real life attempted murder trial of British socialite Claus von Bulow (played by Oscar winner Jeremy Irons), this movie also stars Glenn Close and Ron Silver.

11. They Won't Forget (1937)- A fictionalized account of the 1913 murder of Mary Phagan, this film (which features the movie debut of Lana Turner, pictured below) shines a spotlight on the dangers of prejudice and mob mentality.

12. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)- Based on the Harper Lee novel, this classic stars Oscar winner Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, a lawyer defending a young black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. The movie also features the debut of Robert Duvall as the misunderstood Boo Radley.

13. Witness For the Prosecution (1957)- Centering on a man (Tyrone Power) accused of killing a rich, older woman, this outstanding film based on a work by Agatha Christie has a couple of twists that I never saw coming. Also starring in this film are Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton (pictured below).

Below is the trailer to 12 Angry Men

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Nicholas said...

Some very good films there! 12 Angry Men was one of those films where every actor was a character actor. They did a remake some years ago, heaven knows why. As I watched it I kept thinking "Oh, he's playing Jack Webber. And he must be playing Ed Begley." etc.

I'm glad you included Witness For The P. The original, not the 1980s remake. An excellent performance for Laughton.

pjazzypar said...

What a list! I love them all, especially 12 Angry Men, Knock On Every Door, To Kill A Mockingbird and My Cousin Vinny.

pussreboots said...

I'm pretty sure I haven't seen any of the films on your list. Happy TT.

Robin said...

Some excellent films on that list - Philadelphia, 12 Angry Men, To Kill A Mockingbird...

I didn't care for Reversal of Fortune - I like endings wrapped up in neat, accessible little packages (call me simplistic) and that one left too much hanging.

SandyCarlson said...

To Kill a Mockingbird came to mind immediately!

Michelle said...

The are some great films. I loved The accused and My Cousin Vinny. I haven't seen some of the older ones. Great idea for your TT. Thanks for stopping by mine.

Sassy Mama Bear said...

Glad you had To Kill a Mockingbird in there, going to be teaching that with my kids this week. On your list I also liked The Accused and 12 Angry Men.
One I liked but you didn't place was A Few Good Men.
Have a great Thursday and if you wish pop by my TT at The Cafe at the END of the Universe & Mama Bear Reads.

colleen said...

I know there were other good ones I loved but I can't think of the names of them now. How about Amistad?

Jessica said...

12 Angry Men is such a good movie! I'm going to have to watch Anatomy of A Murder. A Jimmy Stewart movie I haven't heard of!! Shocking. :) lol

Carol said...

What a classic-packed list, Malcom! Good 13!

I have a music one for you.

Anonymous said...

My favorite on your list is Philadelphia (it's also one of my favorite soundtracks of all time).
Neil Young's version of Philadelphia that plays during the home movies at the end of the movie makes me cry every time.

After Hours said...

I think I'm too young to have seen a lot of these movies but a few looked very interesting. I'll have to see if I can catch them at the vide store.

forgetfulone said...

To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite from your list. There are a couple I need to add to my Netflix queue.

The Gal Herself said...

What a heavenly list! Atticus Finch, of course, if a hero for all time. Al Pacino has never been sexier than in And Justice for All. Witness for the Prosecution is a joy to watch, especially after you know THE SECRET. Anatomy of a Murder is terrific too. I love movie TTs! (Thanks for visiting mine this week.)

Pop Art Diva! said...

I loved all of these except Reversal of Fortune and The Accused. Not because of the quality of the films but because I just couldn't get into the subject matter - I've never seen either all the way through!

My favorites: Inherit The Wind, And Justice for All, Philadelphia and My Cousin Vinny.

That being said, It must be movie week - I just posted 13 Legendary Film Stars that Never won Best Actor

Lori said...

Love, love, love My Cousin Vinny. Witness for the Prosecution and To Kill A Mockingbird were great but I had read the books first and they are just so much better.

One of my favorite legal comedies is an obscure 80's one starring Judd Nelson, From The Hip. Just loved that movie. I guess you could do a whole 'nother TT on legal comedies, eh? :-)

Anonymous said...

Philadelphia makes me cry.

I've read To Kill a Mockingbird several times but never seen it.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I think I've only seen one of your list and that was 12 Angry Men. I think I need to watch more movies.

Kara said...

Great list! Can you imagine a marathon of all these? My head would be spinning! I'm glad I dropped by and plan to be back:-)

Cindy Swanson said...

Courtroom dramas can be awesome! I've got to admit, I'm drawn in by a really well-done one. Great list as always, Malcolm!

Malcolm said...

Nicholas: I thought the remake of 12 Angry Men was pretty good. It helped that they had some of the best in the business starring in it (Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott, Ossie Davis, Hume Cronin, etc.). Since I had seen the original film countless times and they used the same script (with a few changes), I could easily identify who was playing who in the remake.

I don't remember the 1980s remake of Witness For the Prosecution. I looked it up on and was intrigued by the cast (Deborah Kerr, Beau Bridges, Diana Rigg, etc.). As for the 1957 film, Laughton was magnificent.

Pjazzy: When I was looking for a 12 Angry Men clip to include in this post, I found that someone had uploaded the entire film on You Tube. I listened to it/watched it while at work on Thursday and Friday.

Pussreboots: Wow, you haven't seen any of these?! You've got some catching up to do. :-)

Robin: I can see why one wouldn't like the ending of Reversal of Fortune because it did leave some unanswered questions. Although the ending worked for me then, I want to see it again (it's been awhile) to see if it still does.

Sandy: One of my favorite scenes in To Kill A Mockingbird is when Atticus proves that the accused couldn't have committed the rape/assault because he isn't left-handed.

Michelle: Every time I think of My Cousin Vinny, I am reminded of the "yute" scene. I just watched it again on You Tube and it had me rolling.

Sassy Mama Bear: A Few Good Men is one of those films that I can't really say I've seen. I say that because I only saw it once and it was so long ago. It is on my list to see again.

Colleen: Since I was struggling to come up with the last couple of movies to complete this list, I did a Google search to help jog my memory. Amistad is one of the films that kept cropping up. It's now on my mental list of movies I want to see.

Jessica: I wish I had made this list a couple of weeks ago. I then could have let you know that Anatomy of A Murder was airing on TCM on Labor Day. Of all the Jimmy Stewart movies I've seen, it's my favorite.

Carol: Thanks

Thriving Holly: Are you crying? Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There's no crying! THERE'S NO CRYING during the home movie sequence of Philadelphia! Oops, wrong Tom Hanks movie.

After Hours: Thanks for stopping by. If you have it, Turner Classic Movies is another good way to catch up on older films.

Forgetfulone: I saw a Gregory Peck documentary about a month ago. It contained one of Peck's speaking engagements. It was so cool to see the impact that the movie To Kill A Mockingbird had on people. One man said seeing the movie inspired him to become a lawyer.

The Gal Herself: I believe that "...And Justice For All" was my introduction to Al Pacino (it was either that or "The Godfather"). I like how you didn't reveal the secret in "Witness For the Prosecution". Even though it's over 50 years old, I too feel that there are people who haven't seen it.

Pop Art Diva: Watching "Inherit the Wind" for the first time is one of my favorite movie memories. Several years ago, me, my girlfriend and two of our friends were channel surfing one Sunday night when we stumbled upon it. Lucky for us we caught it during the opening credits.

Lori: When putting together this list, I was actually thinking about From the Hip. I finally caught it for the first time a couple of years ago. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

Nonersays: You and me are just the opposite. I've seen To Kill A Mockingbird, but haven't read the book.

The Mistress of the D: 12 Angry Men is one of those films that I can watch over and over and over and... well you get the idea. If you do happen to catch any of the other films on this list, let me know what you think.

Kara: This list would make a great marathon. Thanks for stopping by!

Cindy: Legal films have a certain draw for me too... especially dramas. Thanks for stopping by, it's been awhile.

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