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Movie Review

The Verdict

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for unspecified reasons

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teen to Adult
Courtroom Drama
2 hr. 2 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 8, 1982
Copyright, 20th Century Fox Copyright, 20th Century Fox Copyright, 20th Century Fox Copyright, 20th Century Fox Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Relevant Issues
The Verdict. Copyrighted photograph.






Sin and the Bible

The Ten Commandments

The Final Judgment

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

How good is good enough? Answer

Do Not Enter

Featuring: Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason
Director: Sidney Lumet
Producer: David Brown, Richard D. Zanuck
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

This story, of an outgunned lawyer seeking redemption for himself and justice for his client by taking on a giant bad-guy entity in court, is a forerunner of later films such as “The Rainmaker,” “A Civil Action” and “Erin Brockovich.” It shows the fine touch of director Sidney Lumet (“12 Angry Men” (1957), “Running On Empty,” “A Stranger Among Us”) and was nominated for several Oscars.

Frank Gavin (Paul Newman), an alcoholic lawyer who’s been reduced to ambulance chasing, lands a case involving possible medical malpractice during childbirth. At some point (apparently while photographing the institutionalized, comatose woman), he crosses over from being in the case only for the money to getting emotionally involved. He has to do a lot of digging to get to the truth (if he didn’t, what fun would the story be?).

Content Warnings: There’s quite a bit of profanity. Gavin’s associate Mickey Morrissey (Jack Warden) has an especially filthy mouth, triggering the R rating. it’s implied that Gavin sleeps with a woman he picks up in a bar (after turning his ex-wife’s photo so she can’t “see” them). The stakes are high, and the defendants and their chief lawyer (James Mason) play real hardball with the case (I’ll leave it at that, lest I give the storyline away).

Watch for young Bruce Willis as an “extra” in the courtroom.

Although there are inaccuracies in the legal procedures, this is a good example of the David vs. Goliath plot. Not based on a particular true story, but worthwhile as mature entertainment.

Viewer Comments
Positive—In Sidney Lumet’s “The Verdict” (1982), Paul Newman’s amazing performance as washed-up ambulance chaser Frank Galvin informs this masterpiece and great morality play. There are some elements that preclude the film from viewing by children and adolescents, but any mature Christian will immediately see the film’s point shining through in Galvin’s spiritual awakening to the attorney he once was (or, at least, dreamed of being)—that truth and justice, even if seen “through a glass darkly” by expediency, corruption or despair, are still truth and justice.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Kent Dean, age 61 (USA)