Netflix Pick: ‘The Verdict’

The Verdict (1982)
Directed by Sidney Lumet
129 mins.

By Tim Lucia

Legendary director Sidney Lumet (Network, Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men) delivers a gem of a courtroom drama with 1982’s The Verdict.  Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, and James Mason round out the top-notch cast, while legendary writer David Mamet provides a strong script, as always.  Frank Galvin (Newman) is a hard-drinking, down-on-his-luck, ambulance chasing lawyer.  His friend and former associate Mickey (Warden) does him a favor by handing over an open-and-shut type case; a medical malpractice suit in which both parties are willing to settle out of court.  Galvin lazily fumbles his way through the preliminary hearings, but before long he realizes he should take the case to court.  His clients are hesitant, not wanting to lose everything, but Galvin is determined to get them a better settlement, punish the guilty, and assure himself he is a ‘real’ lawyer by striving to do what is right.  Rampling provides a love interest for Galvin while Mason portrays Galvin’s opponent, a very successful and confident defense lawyer.  Lumet is one of cinema’s most underrated directors, and while The Verdict was not as influential as Network or Dog Day, it is still a very fine film.

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