"The Verdict" [1982] - Paul Newman

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Abishai100, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. Abishai100
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    Abishai100 VIP Member

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    The Verdict is a 1982 American legal drama film directed by Sidney Lumet and written by David Mamet from Barry Reed's eponymous novel. It stars Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason, Milo O'Shea, and Lindsay Crouse. In the story, a down-on-his-luck alcoholic lawyer accepts a medical malpractice case to improve his own situation, but discovers along the way that he is doing the right thing.

    The Verdict garnered critical acclaim and box office success. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actor in a Leading Role (Paul Newman), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (James Mason), Best Director (Sidney Lumet), Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay (David Mamet) --- source of information (from top): Wikipedia.

    Paul Newman plays the fictional pensive and hard-drinking American lawyer Frank Galvin who has a shrewdness for 'picking up' any case that 'seems' legal and sounding 'human/sensitive' to his clients, but he's emotionally drained which makes this symbolic medical malpractice case spiritually 'enticing.'

    This lauded film is very well-directed and very well-acted, and I'm surprised Newman did not win the Oscar --- he would have were this film not made in the same year Richard Attenborough made his seminal Indian-history freedom-fighting biopic Gandhi (which won Ben Kingsley the Oscar for Best Actor that year).

    Newman offers us a portrait of a gritty but motivation-craving American legal system 'bureaucrat' who reveals why the law is so darn frustratingly 'human' sometimes, and I compare this legal drama (very character-driven) to other sharply-made legalese films such as Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) and The Insider (Russell Crowe).

    When I think of Newman's character in The Verdict --- Frank Galvin --- I think about just about any 'normal American' naturally pensive about ethics and imagination in our modern age of bureaucracy and 'customs.' I give this solid Sidney Lumet film a solid 4/5 stars.




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    Galvin was once a promising American attorney whose career was tarnished because of a jury-tampering accusation, forcing him to become a cliched legal 'ambulance-chaser' (basically 'thirsty' for clientele). Galvin's friend sends him the details of an interesting medical malpractice case which seems a sure-shot for a large settlement for his potential client. Galvin takes the case.

    "The case involves a young woman given an anesthetic during childbirth, after which she choked on her vomit and was deprived of oxygen. The woman is now comatose and on a respirator. Her sister and brother-in-law are hoping for a monetary award in order to give her proper care. Frank assures them they have a strong case" (source of summary: Wikipedia).

    "A nurse testifies that, shortly after the patient had become comatose, the anesthesiologist (one of the two doctors on trial, along with the archdiocese of Boston --- because of the childbirth overtones of the publicized case) told her to change her notes on the admitting form to hide his fatal error. She had written down that the patient had had a full meal only one hour before being admitted. The doctor had failed to read the admitting notes. Thus, in ignorance, he gave her an anesthetic that should never be given to a patient with a full stomach. As a result, the patient vomited and choked" (source of summary: Wikipedia).


    As Galvin scrambles to provide the jury the necessary nurse-notes and photocopied nurse-notes (which may prove that the anesthesiologist failed to read that the patient had just eaten a meal and can not therefore be given an anesthetic), he also has to offer the jury a convincing/imaginative closing-argument (to avoid the problems of political overtones and some mishandling of evidence).

    Whether or not Galvin wins the case is not as important as Galvin's personal 'crusade' to prove that the entire legal system in modern-day America is still somehow...professional (and hence reliable). It's a taut legal drama with nice human personality storytelling. This is a nice film for any aspiring lawyer perhaps unsure about the moral quandaries involved with tackling the 'hairy world' of legalese (and court-room 'complications').

    If you're a movie-nut (like me), and you have a movie-nut girlfriend/wife/spouse, you might consider The Verdict as an intellectual/cerebral Valentine's Day gift. It's a cool film, and an under-appreciated achievement for the experience-rich Paul Newman. This film reminds us why we are all (in some way) something like 'bureaucratic small soldiers' (rather than perhaps simply 'fatalism dolls'). You don't have to be a fan of the legal system to be entertained by this 'old-style' American film. I like The Verdict as much as Sidney Lumet's Serpico (Al Pacino) and Prince of the City (Treat Williams).




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  2. Mr Clean
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    Mr Clean Gold Member

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    I remember it only to the extent that it introduced me to the wonders of Bushmills.
     
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  3. whitehall
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    whitehall Platinum Member

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    The movie was a gem. Every scene was a piece of art. James Mason's face when he found out that the nurse kept a copy was priceless. No car chases, no fight scenes and no zombies. Who wooda thunk it. Thumbs up but you gotta wonder if Galvin went back on the sauce.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
  4. Tommy Tainant
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    Tommy Tainant Gold Member

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    I thi
    I think he probably did, he could afford it after the case.
    Charlotte Rampling treated him badly and I think that would have affected him deeply. Still shocks when he gives her a slap.
     
  5. g5000
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    g5000 Diamond Member

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    Great movie.
     
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  6. sartre play
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    sartre play Gold Member

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    dido, great movie.
     

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