Category:American legal drama films
Pages in category "American legal drama films"
The following 53 pages are in this category, out of 53 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
The following 53 pages are in this category, out of 53 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
1. 12 Angry Men (1957 film) – 12 Angry Men is a 1957 American courtroom drama film adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. In the United States, a verdict in most criminal trials by jury must be unanimous, the film is notable for its almost exclusive use of one set, out of 96 minutes of run time, only three minutes take place outside of the jury room. 12 Angry Men explores many techniques of consensus-building, and the difficulties encountered in the process, among a group of men whose range of personalities adds intensity and conflict. In 2007, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. In a New York City courthouse a jury commences deliberating the case of an 18-year-old boy from a slum, if there is any reasonable doubt they are to return a verdict of not guilty. If found guilty, the boy will receive a death sentence, in a preliminary vote, all jurors vote guilty except Juror 8, who argues that the boy deserves some deliberation. Juror 8 questions the accuracy and reliability of the two witnesses, and the prosecutions claim that the murder weapon, a common switchblade, was rare. Juror 8 argues that reasonable doubt exists, and that he therefore cannot in conscience vote guilty, Juror 8 suggests a secret ballot, from which he will abstain, and agrees to change his vote if the others unanimously vote guilty. The ballot is held and a new not guilty vote appears, an angry Juror 3 accuses Juror 5, who grew up in a slum, of changing his vote out of sympathy towards slum children. However, Juror 9 reveals it was he that changed his vote, Juror 8 argues that the noise of a passing train would have obscured the verbal threat that one witness claimed to have heard the boy tell his father Im going to kill you. Juror 5 then changes his vote, Juror 11 also changes his vote, believing the boy would not likely have tried to retrieve the murder weapon from the scene if it had been cleaned of fingerprints. An angry Juror 3 shouts that they are losing their chance to burn the boy, Juror 8 accuses him of being a sadist. Jurors 2 and 6 then change their votes, tying the vote at 6–6, Juror 4 doubts the boys alibi of being at the movies, because he could not recall it in much detail. Juror 8 tests how well Juror 4 remembers previous days, which he does, Juror 2 questions the likelihood that the boy, who was almost a foot shorter than his father, could have inflicted the downward stab wound found in the body. Jurors 3 and 8 then conduct an experiment to see whether a person could stab downwards on a taller person. Increasingly impatient, Juror 7 changes his vote to hasten the deliberation, coincidentally, it begins to storm outside, rendering his selfish decision pointless. Jurors 12 and 1 then change their votes, leaving only three dissenters, Jurors 3,4 and 10, Juror 10 then vents a torrent of condemnation of slum-born people, claiming they are no better than animals who kill for fun. Most of the others turn their backs to him, except for Juror 4, Juror 12 then reverts his vote, making the vote 8–4
2. The Accused (1988 film) – The Accused is a 1988 American drama film written by Tom Topor and directed by Jonathan Kaplan. It starred Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis, the film is set in Washington state and filmed in Vancouver, Canada. The film was based on the 1983 gang rape of Cheryl Araujo in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and the resulting trial. This film was one of the first Hollywood films to portray rape graphically, Jodie Foster portrayed Sarah Tobias, the victim, earning the Academy Award for Best Actress, the films sole nomination. One night at a bar, working-class woman Sarah Tobias is gang raped by several bar patrons. Assistant district attorney, Kathryn Murphy is assigned to the rape case and her superior wants to drop the case, believing that Sarahs background and prior record will make her testimony appear weak to the jury and that she will not win the case. After a heated argument, her superior suggests she arrange a plea bargain with the defendants that requires some jail time. They make a bargain to charges of reckless endangerment, and are sentenced to prison. Sarah is enraged by the deal, as she did not get to testify in court against her attackers, Sarah is hospitalized after she rammed a pickup truck, recognizing its driver as one of the witnesses from the bar, and being outraged by his crude proposition of her. After this, Kathryn decides to prosecute the men who cheered the rape for criminal solicitation, Sarahs friend Sally, a waitress at the bar where the rape took place, picks three men out of a line-up as those who encouraged the attackers. They get three different defense attorneys for the ensuing trial, Sarah testifies that she was raped. College student Kenneth Joyce, a friend of one of the rapists, after Kathryns closing statement and a single summation from the three defense lawyers, the jury deliberates for a long time. They ask several times for Kens testimony to be reread to them, in the end, the jury convicts the three defendants. Writing of the two criminal prosecutions in the film, Roger Ebert finds that the lesson of the trial may be the most important message this movie has to offer and it is a form of imprisonment. The film was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival in 1989, Jodie Foster won an Academy Award as Best Actress for her performance, the film received no other nominations for Academy Awards. It was the first time this had occurred since 1962, when Sophia Loren won Best Actress for her performance in Two Women, Kelly McGillis acknowledged at the time of film release that she had survived an attack and rape. Based on her experience, the actress took the role of the fictional Assistant District Attorney Murphy in the film, McGillis was initially recruited to play the role of Sarah Tobias but declined, citing her personal experience. In 1982, McGillis was assaulted, raped, and robbed in her home by Leroy Johnson, a sex offender who had escaped from juvenile jail
3. American Violet – American Violet is a 2008 drama film directed by Tim Disney and starring Nicole Beharie. The story is based on Regina Kelly, a victim of Texas police drug enforcement tactics, one day, while Dee is working a shift at the local diner, the powerful local district attorney, Calvin Beckett, leads a group into the restaurant, sweeping Dee’s housing project. The police drag Dee from work in handcuffs and dump her in the county prison. Indicted based on the word of a single and dubious police informant facing his own drug charges. Despite the urgings of her mother, and with her freedom, Dee works with an ACLU attorney and a former local narcotics officer to take on the Texas justice system. The lawsuit accused Paschall and the South Central Texas Narcotics Task Force of conducting racially motivated drug sweeps for more than 15 years in Hearne, in 2005, the ACLU and Robertson County settled and the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss the individuals named in the suit, including Paschall. The fictional Harmon County represents Robertson County, Texas, where John Paschall was defeated for reelection in 2012, Regina Kelly continued to live in Hearne until 2009. The film stays close to the details of the actual case, although it changes all the characters names and takes some liberties with the cases transcripts. Some of the lawyers objected to the way they were portrayed, in the film, the public defender urges the character named Dee Roberts to accept a plea bargain. The actual public defender claims he never tells innocent clients to take a plea, in the film, the character questions the plaintiff about her sexual history. The actual lawyer claims the questions were routine questions about her children and their fathers, also, the film shows the DA presiding over a hearing about custody of the defendants children. Actually, the DA was present and spoke at the hearing, and the actual legal team for the plaintiffs was much larger, consisting of about 25 lawyers, from a private law firm, working pro bono. Clay Kane said that American Violet is the first must-see film for African-Americans in 2009, dr. Joy Browne of WOR Radio reviewed the film, calling it A gem of a movie. Everything you look for in an experience and more. Rex Reed of The New York Observer said that the film is a rich, roger Ebert gave the film three stars and commented that Nicole Beharie delivers a stunning performance. American Violet at the Internet Movie Database American Violet at Rotten Tomatoes Frontlines documentary The Plea ACLU Press Release] on Dallas Morning News
4. Anatomy of a Murder – Voelker based the novel on a 1952 murder case in which he was the defense attorney. The film stars James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Eve Arden, scott, Arthur OConnell, Kathryn Grant, Brooks West, Orson Bean, and Murray Hamilton. The judge was played by Joseph N. Welch, a real-life lawyer famous for berating Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings and this was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to address sex and rape in graphic terms. In 2012, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. One day, Biegler is contacted by Laura Manion, the wife of US Army Lieutenant Frederick Manny Manion, Manion does not deny the murder, but claims that Quill raped his wife. Bieglers folksy speech and laid-back demeanor hide a sharp legal mind, however, the case for the defense does not go well, especially since the local district attorney is assisted by high-powered prosecutor Claude Dancer from the Attorney Generals office. Furthermore, the prosecution tries at every instance to block any mention of Manions motive for killing Quill, Biegler eventually manages to get Laura Manions rape into the record and Judge Weaver agrees to allow the matter to be part of the deliberations. However, during cross-examination, Dancer insinuates that Laura openly flirted with other men, psychiatrists give conflicting testimony to Manions state of mind at the time that he killed Quill. Dancer says that Manion may have suspected Laura of cheating on him because he asked his wife and this raises doubt as to whether the act was nonconsensual. Quills estate is to be inherited by Mary Pilant, whom Dancer accuses of being Quills mistress, McCarthy learns that she is in fact Quills daughter, a fact she is anxious to keep secret since she was born out of wedlock. Through Pilant, Biegler tries to persuade Paquette to testify for the defense, during the trial, Laura claims that Quill tore off her panties while raping her, these panties were not found in the crime scene, where she alleges the rape took place. Pilant, unaware of any details of the case, voluntarily returns to the courtroom to testify that she found the panties in the laundry room. Biegler suggests Quill may have dropped the panties down the chute, located next to his room. Dancer tries to establish that Pilants answers are founded on her jealousy, when Dancer asserts forcibly that Quill was Pilants lover and that Pilant lied to cover this fact, Pilant shocks everyone by stating that Quill was her father. Manion is found not guilty by reason of insanity, after the trial, Biegler decides to open a new practice, with a newly sober McCarthy as his partner. The next day, Biegler and McCarthy travel to the Manions trailer park home to get Manions signature on a note which they hope will suffice as collateral for a desperately needed loan. It turns out the Manions have vacated the park, however. Manion left a note for Biegler, indicating that his flight was an irresistible impulse—the same terminology Biegler used during the trial, Biegler states that Mary Pilant has retained him to execute Quills estate
5. Casualties of War – Casualties of War is a 1989 American war drama film directed by Brian De Palma, with a screenplay by David Rabe, based on the actual events of the incident on Hill 192 in 1966 during the Vietnam War. The picture stars Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn, an article written by Daniel Lang for The New Yorker in 1969, and a subsequent book were the movies primary sources. The story is presented as a flashback of Max Eriksson, a Vietnam veteran, Lt. Reilly leads his platoon of American soldiers on a nighttime patrol. They are attacked by the Viet Cong after a panicked soldier exposes their position, while on flank security, the ground cracks under Eriksson and he ends up partially stuck in a Viet Cong tunnel. Erikssons squad leader, Sergeant Tony Meserve, pulls Eriksson out of the hole and eventually, the platoon takes a break outside a river village in the Central Highlands. While relaxing and joking around, one of Meserves friends, Specialist 4 Brownie Brown, is killed when the Viet Cong ambushes them, brownies death has a major impact on Meserve. Shortly afterward, the platoon is sent back to their barracks at Wolfe Base, Private First Class Antonio Dìaz arrives as the replacement radio operator. Frustrated because his squad has been denied leave for an extended period, Eriksson strenuously objects but Meserve, Cpl. Thomas E. Clark, and Private First Class Herbert Hatcher ignore Erikksons objections, before the five-man squad disembarked, Eriksson talks about his concerns to his closest friend, Rowan. At nightfall, the squad enters a village and kidnaps a Vietnamese girl, as the squad treks through the mountains, Dìaz begins to reconsider raping Than and begs Erikkson to back him up. The squad and Than eventually take refuge in an abandoned hooch, where Erikkson is confronted and threatened by Meserve, Clark, as the taunting continued, Dìaz decides to go along with the rape in order to avoid ridicule. Erikkson, who is now outnumbered, is ordered to the guard the hooch as the rest of the men take their turn raping Than. At daybreak, Erikkson is ordered to guard Than while the rest of the squad takes up a position near a bridge overlooking a Viet Cong river supply depot. Through his acts of kindness, Erikkson manages to earn Thans trust and prepares to go AWOL, however, Meserve sends Clark to get Erikkson and Than to go to the bridge before Erikkson can carry out his plan. Meserve has Dìaz order air support for an assault on the depot, before Dìaz can kill her, Eriksson fires his rifle into the air, exposing them to the nearby Viet Cong. In the midst of the firefight, Than tries to escape, Eriksson tries to save her but is stopped by Meserve, who knocks Eriksson down with the butt of his gun. Eriksson watches helplessly as the entire squad shoots Than numerous times until she falls off of the bridge, after the battle, Eriksson wakes up in a field hospital on Wolfe Base. Erikkson eventually bumps into Rowan and tells him everything that happened, Rowan comforts his friend and suggests that Erikkson sees Lt. Reilly and Company commander Captain Hill
6. Changing Lanes – Changing Lanes is a 2002 American drama-thriller film directed by Roger Michell, and stars Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. The film follows a successful, young Wall Street lawyer who accidentally crashes his car into a driven by a middle-aged. After the lawyer leaves the scene of the accident, the two men try to get back at other, engaging in a variety of immoral and illegal actions that end up having a major impact on each mans life. The film was released on April 12,2002 in North America by Paramount Pictures, the film was favourably reviewed by critics and it was a box office success, earning almost $95 million against a $45 million budget. Writers Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin were nominated for the WAFCA Award for Best Original Screenplay for their work, in New York City, a middle-aged African-American insurance salesman named Doyle Gipson is a recovering alcoholic who is attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to stay sober. Banek was in a rush to get to court to file a power of appointment document, Gipson was also in a rush to get to a hearing to prevent his estranged wife from taking his two boys to Oregon. Banek tries to brush Gipson off with a check, rather than exchanging insurance information. After arriving to the late, Gipson learns that the judge ruled against him in his absence, never knowing that Gipson was about to buy a house for his wife. When Banek gets to court, he realizes that he dropped the crucial power of appointment file at the scene of the accident, Gipson, who scooped up the file, is torn, and initially refuses to return the file. Gipson is distraught when he finds out his credit has been ruined, determined to get back at Banek, Gipson loosens the bolts on one of Baneks tires, and Banek suffers some minor injuries after his car crashes on the highway. Enraged, Banek goes to the school of Gipsons children and tells school officials that Gipson plans to kidnap the boys. Both men, shaken by the consequences of their actions, start to reconsider their desire for vengeance and try to find a way out. Although it appears unlikely that either man will achieve what he had hoped, Banek also visits Gipsons wife to explain everything. The film ends with Gipsons wife and children smiling at him from across the street, Ben Affleck as Gavin Banek Samuel L. The film received reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 77% based on reviews from 151 critics, Metacritic gave it an average score of 69/100 from the 36 reviews it collected. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised the film, calling it one of the years best, official website Changing Lanes at the Internet Movie Database Changing Lanes at Rotten Tomatoes Changing Lanes at Metacritic Changing Lanes at Box Office Mojo
7. A Civil Action (film) – A Civil Action is a 1998 American drama film that was directed by Steven Zaillian, that stars John Travolta and Robert Duvall, and that is based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Harr. Both the book and the film are based on a story of a court case about environmental pollution that took place in Woburn, Massachusetts. The movie and court case revolve around the issue of trichloroethylene, an industrial solvent, and its contamination of a local aquifer. A lawsuit was filed over industrial operations that appeared to have caused cases of leukemia and cancer, as well as a wide variety of other health problems. The case involved is Anne Anderson, et al. v. Cryovac, the first reported decision in the case is at 96 F. R. D. Duvall was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance, environmental toxins in the city of Woburn, Massachusetts contaminate the areas water supply, and become linked to a number of deaths of neighboring children. The local tanneries could be responsible for several cases of leukemia. Bringing a class action lawsuit in court, Jan represents families who demand a clean-up of contaminated areas. However, the case develops a life of its own and takes over the lives of Jan, Jan stubbornly declines settlement offers, gradually coming to believe that the case is about more than just the money. He allows his pride to take over, making outrageous demands, pressures take their toll, with Jan and his partners going deeply into debt. After a lengthy trial, the case is dismissed in favor of Beatrice, the plaintiffs are forced to accept a settlement with Grace that barely covers the expense involved in trying the case, leaving Jan and his partners broke. The families are deeply disappointed, and Jans partners dissolve their partnership, Jan ends up alone, living in a small apartment and running a small-time law practice. He manages to find the last key witness to the case, the files are archived while Jan later files for bankruptcy. It takes Jan several years to settle his debts, and he now practices law in Boston. The plotline has been simplified from the book, e. g. The characters Charles Nesson, Mark Phillips, Rikki Klieman, Teresa Padro and others have removed from the film version. Despite receiving mostly positive reception from critics and with Duvall getting an Oscar nomination and its domestic gross was a mere $56 million, well below its $75 million budget. The film was successful on limited release, the music score was written by Danny Elfman
8. The Client (1994 film) – The Client is a 1994 American legal thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher, and starring Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, and Brad Renfro. It is based on the novel of the name by John Grisham. The film was released in the United States on July 20,1994, eleven-year-old Mark Sway and his little brother, Ricky, are smoking cigarettes in the woods near their home when they encounter Mob lawyer Jerome Clifford. Clifford tells Mark that he is about to kill himself to avoid being murdered by Barry The Blade Muldano, Ricky becomes catatonic after witnessing the suicide and is hospitalized. Authorities–and the Mob–realize that Clifford may have told Mark where a Louisiana senator who was murdered by Muldano is buried, Mark meets Regina Reggie Love, a lawyer and recovering alcoholic, who agrees to represent him. They quickly run afoul of Reverend Roy Foltrigg, a celebrated, in the meantime, it is revealed that Sulari never authorized Muldano to kill the senator and wants Muldano to uncover how much the boys know. Muldano is also ordered to move the body, but currently he is unable to because it is buried in Cliffords boathouse, Foltrigg continues to use legal means to get Mark to reveal where the body is hidden, while Sulari orders Muldano to kill the children and Reggie. He also orders the body to be moved once the investigation at Cliffords home is concluded, Mark is threatened in a hospital elevator by a member of the Mafia, and is unable to talk to Foltrigg. Mark and Reggie go to New Orleans to confirm that the body is on Cliffords property, Reggie intends to use this information to broker a deal with Foltrigg to get Ricky specialized medical care and place the family in the witness protection program. Reggie and Mark arrive at Cliffords house the night as Muldano. They are digging up the body, but a melee follows when Mark, Muldano and the others flee after Reggie trips the neighbors alarm. Foltrigg agrees to Reggies demands in exchange for information about the bodys location, before the Sway family leaves to restart their lives under new identities, Mark and Reggie share a heartfelt goodbye. Although not explicitly stated, Sulari has had enough of Muldano, with the body recovered, Foltrigg is a lock-in for the media headlines he craves, and mentions that he intends to run for governor. The film was a success, earning $92,115,211 at the North American domestic box office. The film received positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected reviews from 35 critics to give the film a score of 80%, roger Ebert gave the film a score of 2.5 out of 4. For her work in the film, Sarandon was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, ^ Spelled Muldanno in the original novel. The Client at the Internet Movie Database The Client at AllMovie
9. Compulsion (1959 film) – Compulsion is a 1959 American crime drama film directed by Richard Fleischer. The film is based on the 1956 novel of the name by Meyer Levin. It was the first film produced by Richard D. Zanuck, although the principal roles are played by Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman, top billing went to Orson Welles. Close friends Judd Steiner and Artie Strauss kill a boy on his way home from school in order to commit the perfect crime. Strauss tries to cover it up, but they are caught when police find a key piece of evidence — Steiners glasses, famed attorney Jonathan Wilk takes their case, saving them from hanging by making an impassioned closing argument against capital punishment. On his final day of production, at a party in his honor. The film was entered into the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, where Dillman, Stockwell and it was nominated for the BAFTA best picture of the year. Richard Fleischer was nominated for best director by Directors Guild of America, Leopold and Loeb List of American films of 1959 Compulsion at the Internet Movie Database Compulsion at Rotten Tomatoes Compulsion at the TCM Movie Database Compulsion at AllMovie