Thursday, 5 January 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Legal Thrillers

Shame this wasn't a TV pick this week, there are a ton of legal thrillers that have been on lately, some highly addictive shows. No matter, we'll go with films.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at Wandering Through the Shelves.

From what I remember, Anthony Hopkins kills his wife and challenges Ryan Gosling, deputy district attorney, to prove he did it. Sounds like an interesting concept from the outside but it was actually the run of the mill murder mystery. So I think I must have enjoyed it but it obviously wasn't the greatest as I can't remembere much.

Anatomy of a Murder
Not sure if you'd call this a thriller but it is a legal case and there are some thrills, there is also the question about what really happened, which I liked instead of the straight forward story. James Stewart is brilliant as the determined Paul Biegler who defends Jackie Treehorn Ben Gazzara ambiguous defendant.

The Life of David Gale
Again, I'm not sure if this is a legal thriller, but it was a surprisingly good film. For some bizarre reason I owed this on VHS. Kevin Spacey is David and he is accused of raping and killing his best friend and fellow activist. Kate Winslett is a journalist trying to find out the truth. There are a couple of 'oh my gad' moments and it is actually really sad. But great cast, great story.


  1. I remember seeing Fracture in theaters, liking it, but like you I don't remember much of it now. I haven't seen the other two.

  2. Fracture is pretty popular this week. I have seen it in other's post, too. I doubted a lot whether some movies are considered legal thrillers.

  3. Good choices! Love Anatomy of a Murder and it has some pieces of mystery to it so I think that qualifies it. It can be a bit tough determining between what makes a thriller and what's more of a procedural. Anyway brilliantly acted by all. Did you know that Lee Remick's role was originally cast with Lana Turner? Lana and Preminger did NOT hit it off though-she was later quoted as saying "Thank God I have enough money that neither I nor anyone close to me will ever have to work for Otto Preminger!" I think it worked out for the best, I a big Turner fan but I'm not sure at that point she could have brought the kittenish quality that Remick did to the role.

    Fracture had two excellent performances but otherwise was run of the mill. David Gale started well but sort of fell apart as it went along. Again a very good cast.

    Since that line between thriller and procedural is a tricky one I chose three films I love that seemed to fit.

    Primal Fear (1996)-Martin Vail (Richard Gere) a big time Chicago attorney who loves the spotlight and isn’t overburdened with scruples takes on pro bono, for both the challenge and the publicity, the seemingly unwinnable case of angel faced choir boy Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton) accused of viciously slaying a much loved priest. The case leads him down many dark corridors and ultimately to a crisis of conscience. Expertly acted by a top flight cast, Laura Linney, Frances McDormand, Andre Braugher and Alfre Woodard (great fun as a tippling no nonsense judge) among many others, but the standouts are top liner Gere and Norton who is simply astonishing in his screen bow.

    Suspect (1987)-An esteemed judge commits suicide shortly after giving his secretary a package. The next morning the secretary is found dead in the Potomac with her throat cut and almost immediately a mute homeless man (Liam Neeson) found with the dead woman’s wallet is arrested for the crime. His case is assigned to public defender Kathleen Riley (Cher) and it seems a straightforward case. Once the jury is empaneled though one of the jurors, lobbyist Eddie Sanger (Dennis Quaid) notices some inconsistences in the case and surreptitiously tries to pass his suspicions to Kathleen without subverting the trial. They secretly team up when those suspicions grow darker and both find their lives threatened. A trifle farfetched but suspenseful legal thriller with good performances, cast and direction. Excellent opening credits set the mood of the film up well.

    Witness for the Prosecution (1957)-In London when wealthy widow Emily French is found bludgeoned to death suspicion falls on struggling inventor Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power in his last film), a somewhat shiftless acquaintance of hers. He turns to well respected but thorny barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) to take the case. Fresh out of hospital and attended by a constantly flummoxed nurse Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester-Laughton’s real life wife) Robarts at first declines but after an entreaty by Vole’s wife Christine (a scene stealing Marlene Dietrich) he takes up the case which is loaded with twists and turns aplenty. Splendid adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic story enacted by a cast that couldn’t be better and superbly directed by Billy Wilder.

  4. I enjoyed the cat and mouse game in Fracture. It isn't the greatest but I can watch it again. I love Jimmy Stewart and this is one film I still have to see and I own the damm DVD! I have only aught a glimpse here and there of David Gale but would like to see the whole thing since I like the actors

  5. I'm glad to see The Life of David Gale. I really wasn't expecting to enjoy it because of the bad reviews, but it was good.

  6. Jimmy Stewart is always brilliant. Top guy and actor. Haven't seen the other two but any film with Hopkins and and Spacey in a major role is worth a watch

  7. Anatomy of a Murder getting lots of love. I really need to watch it one of these days.

  8. Fracture - the movie everyone likes but don't remember much of. I'm the same. :)