Just Cause (film)

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Just Cause
Just cause ver1.jpg
Directed by Arne Glimcher
Produced by Arne Glimcher
Steve Perry
Lee Rich
Written by Jeb Stuart
Peter Stone
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Lajos Koltai
Edited by William M. Anderson
Armen Minasian
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • February 17, 1995 (1995-02-17)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $27 million
Box office $36,853,222

Just Cause is a 1995 crime thriller film directed by Arne Glimcher and starring Sean Connery and Laurence Fishburne. It is based on John Katzenbach's novel of the same name.


Paul Armstrong (Sean Connery), a liberal Harvard professor opposed to capital punishment, is persuaded to go to Florida to investigate the conviction of Bobby Earl Ferguson (Blair Underwood) for murder. Ferguson, a former Cornell University student, who was convicted of raping and murdering a young white girl named Joanie Shriver (Barbara Jean Kane). Armstrong must save him from being executed in the electric chair. Ferguson tells Armstrong that he was tortured by two police detectives to get a confession, as Armstrong digs deeper into the case, he discovers that Tanny Brown (Laurence Fishburne), the chief detective on the case, did indeed coerce Ferguson's confession.

The plot thickens when Ferguson tells the professor that the murder was actually committed by Blair Sullivan (Ed Harris), a serial killer awaiting execution, who later reveals the location of the weapon used to kill the girl. When Armstrong discovers the weapon, Brown tries to threaten him into abandoning the investigation. (It is revealed that the murdered girl was Brown's daughter's best friend.) Ferguson gets a re-trial and is freed from prison. Subsequently, the governor signs Sullivan's death warrant.

Armstrong receives a call from Sullivan, who says he has a final clue to share, but first wants Armstrong to visit his (Sullivan's) parents and tell them he said goodbye. Armstrong is shocked to find their butchered bodies. Back at the prison, Sullivan gloats that he and Ferguson struck a deal: Ferguson would kill Sullivan's parents in exchange for freedom, while Sullivan would claim responsibility for the girl's murder, which Ferguson did in fact commit. Armstrong asks why he was needed for their scheme, and Sullivan replies that was "Bobby Earl's call." Armstrong, in his anger at being played, lies to Sullivan and tells him his parents were alive and that they "forgive him." Sullivan becomes enraged. He resists the guards taking him to the electric chair, where he is executed.

Armstrong and Brown go after Ferguson, whose motive for everything turns out to be a desire for revenge on Armstrong's wife (Kate Capshaw); she was the prosecutor against him in a previous rape trial which, while thrown out of court on a technicality, resulted in him being brutalized and castrated in jail, as well as being kicked out of Cornell, robbing him of any chance of a future. Ferguson plans to murder Armstrong's wife and daughter (Scarlett Johansson) and then disappear. Armstrong and Brown join forces to kill Ferguson and save Armstrong's family.



Sean Connery turned down the role of King Edward I for the film Braveheart so he could do this film. Will Smith was in talks to take on the role of Bobby Earl Ferguson. Connery and director Arne Glimcher are close friends, & Glimcher took on directing duties in favor for Sean so they can both work on the film together.

Principal photography began on May 16, 1994. Filming took place in and around the state of Florida. Locations includes Lee County, Collier County, Fort Myers, Fort Denaud, Miami Beach and Gainesville. Filming also includes Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Production wrapped on August 2, 1994, this film also marks the final theatrical film for Hope Lange.


Unlike Glimcher's previous film, The Mambo Kings, Just Cause received mostly negative reviews,[1][2][3] with a "Rotten" 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 29 reviews.[4] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[5]


Just Cause was released on February 17, 1995 in 2,052 theatres. It opened at #2 at the box office grossing $10.6 million in its opening weekend. It remained at #2 for its second week, grossing $6.6 million. After 5 weeks in theatres, the film went on to gross $36.8 million, making it a moderate success.[6]


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