Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Law Movies

One really cool, yet not very accurate, way of finding out what the law and what lawyers do is to watch law-related movies. Like I said above, law movies do not always very accurately portray legal procedure or true legal theory or doctrines. However, I know that for myself, watching law movies and law-related t.v. played a large role in inspiring me to go to law school. I still like to collect law movies and to watch them on occassion. Sometimes they serve to inspire me to continue on in the legal field. Sometimes, they are just plain entertaining. Sometimes, it can be really fun to find all of the legal flaws in a given movie. Sometimes, it's fun to analyze a movie lawyer and imagine emulating some of their personality, especially the confidence aspect.

Here are some of my favourite law movies:

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird - Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge. Starring Gregory Peck. Excellent courtroom drama, and some fine acting for its time. The book is also definitely worth reading.
Philadelphia - When a man with AIDS is fired by a conservative law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit. Starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Cool movie, but very sad!
My Cousin Vinny - this is just plain fun watching. Danny Devito is absolutely hilarious in this film!
The Firm - I love the beginning of this movie. It glamourizes the idea of being a hot-shot law student, and a resulting hot-shot lawyer. I love how he gets wined-and-dined. Cool.
Runaway Jury - one of my favourite movies and books - I liked the acting in this movie. Of course, the book is better because the reader gets to infiltrate the minds of the characters more.
A Civil Action - one of the most realistic law movies that I have seen, although many of my friends go nuts when we discuss whether the main character should have taken the offer.
The Paper Chase - a very entertaining view into Harvard Law School in the 70's. An accurate portrayal of 1L, I thought. I loved the ending of this movie.
The Pelican Brief - not my favourite as I don't really think that Julia Roberts can act very well. But a feel-good popcorn chewing movie.

Movies I plan to see in the next year or two:

12 Angry Men - A jury has to decide a seemingly open and shut case of a young man (who, as with most of the jurors, remains nameless throughout the film) who has been accused of murdering his father in a fit of anger. The evidence couldn't be clearer that this guy did it. Murder weapon, motive, eyewitness testimony all in place. One juror (Fonda) however, wants to talk the case out. He's not 100% convinced that the guy is guilty. And so it begins.
Anatomy of a Murder - James Stewart, a Michigan attorney, and his colleague defend an Army officer for murdering his wife's rapist. Directed by Otto Preminger.
...And Justice For All - "In this scathing, deadly serious satire, Al Pacino is brilliant as a public defender battling injustice in a legal system gone mad. The insanity, corruption, and infuriating blunders will conspire to make most viewers enraged, and rightly so."
The Verdict - A lawyer sees the chance to salvage his career and self-respect by taking a medical malpractice case to trial rather than settling. Starring Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling. Director: Sidney Lumet.
A Man for All Seasons - "A highly honored film (winner of six Academy Awards in 1966, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor)"; account of the life of one of the great men in English history: Sir Thomas More, English lawyer, scholar, statesman' and a victim of the wrath of King Henry VIII; "Robert Bolt's beautiful screen adaptation of his own highly successful and award winning stage play of the same name. It's a reasonably accurate accounting of the events of the last years of Sir Thomas More's life."
The Jury
The Hurricane
The Chamber
The Juror
Judgment at Nuremberg
Adam's Rib

Have a legal-related movie that you love, or maybe hate? Let me know in the comments section. I'm always looking for new films to view.

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