I know that in my reviews I often need to rescue myself from the perils of redundancy. Nevertheless, I will state it again; Paul Newman is and was a superstar, a Top-5 actor of all time. A quick search reveals the ugly reality that most list-makers do not share this opinion. None of this is really important, because the verdict is in and the movie of the hour is The Verdict, starring Paul Newman at his very best.
Frank Galvin is a washed-up, washed-out alcoholic of an ambulance chasing lawyer. The opening scene in the funeral home was embarrassing and cringeworthy as Gavin is handing out business cards to the bereaved, pretending to be a helpful friend of the deceased. He was thrown out in disgrace. He hits bottom and wrecks his office in a drunken rage.
His pal, a lawyer named Mickey Morrison had gotten him a lucrative malpractice case against a Catholic hospital. Their negligence with anesthesia had turned a healthy young woman into a vegetable. It is an open and shut case, and Galvin could make a huge fee with what was sure to be a generous settlement.
However, something happened on the way to the easy paycheck and settlement. Frank visited the comatose woman in the hospital, and something snapped. He was outraged and determined to take this case to trial for maximum damages for egregious malpractice. The courtroom drama was about to ensue in the David Mamet screenplay directed by the great Sidney Lumet.
I would not dream of spoiling this wonderful movie. This was dark, dirty and harrowing courtroom drama at its best. It was David vs. Goliath, a brilliant but humanly flawed attorney against a crack law team, The Catholic Church and a corrupt judge. Paul Newman was at the very top of his game as the passionate and exasperated lawyer who risked everything for justice, and for his own redemption.
The Verdict is one of the top courtroom dramas ever produced. The acting and dialogue are superb as we witness plot twists, devastating betrayal, the arrogance of power and the inevitable disappointing corruption of the judicial system. Will justice prevail?
9.0/10.0 With The Goatesian Rating of Courtroom Drama At Its Best
- “Your honor, with all due respect: if you’re going to try my case for me, I wish you wouldn’t lose it.”
- “He’s a good man? Heh, heh, he’s the Prince of fucking Darkness! He’ll have people testifying they saw her waterskiing in Marblehead last summer. Now look, Frank, don’t fuck with this case! -Mickey Morrissey (referring to the attorney for the Archdiocese)
- “You know, you guys are all the same. You don’t care who you hurt. All you care about is the dollar, you’re a bunch of whores. You got no loyalty, no nothing. You’re a bunch of whores! -Maureen Rooney
- “You know, so much of the time we’re just lost. We say, “Please, God, tell us what is right; tell us what is true.” And there is no justice: the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead… a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims… and we become victims. We become… we become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today you are the law. You ARE the law. Not some book… not the lawyers… not the, a marble statue… or the trappings of the court. See those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are… they are, in fact, a prayer: a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say, “Act as if ye had faith… and faith will be given to you.” IF… if we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves. And ACT with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.” -Frank Gavin (addressing jury)