Friday, March 28, 2008

You Can't Handle the Truth

This Sunday, the State Theatre, a rehabbed old time cinema in downtown State College is featuring A River Runs Through It (1992). Showtimes: 4 and 7 PM. The film is based on a novella (1976) of the same title by Norman McClean. The story is set in western Montana on the Blackfoot River. It follows two sons of a Presbyterian minister as they come of age in the early twentieth century. The film and the book are also, perhaps mainly, about fly fishing. State College is famous among the fly fishing crowd as the heart of some of America's best fly fishing. The film is presented byTCO FlyShop, a a local fly fishing supply business, as part of the State Theatre's "favorite movie" series.

If PSULaw presented a favorite movie night at the State Theatre, what would be our favorite law movie?

These are my nominees to get the project started:



A Few Good Men
I've seen this so many times I can recite most of the dialog. My favorite line? Demi Moore: "I object, I strenuously object. . . ."

My Cousin Vinnie
Yes, this is exactly what it feels like to pass from an ordinary person to a lawyer. My favorite line? Joe Pesci: "Oh, a counter-offer. That's what we lawyers - I'm a lawyer - we lawyers call that a counter-offer. This is a tough decision here. Get my ass kicked or collect $200. Let me think... I could use a good ass-kickin', I'll be very honest with you... nah, I think I'll just go with the two hundred."

The Verdict
Paul Newman is glorious as a lawyer who sees a big malpractice trial as the path to personal redemption.

May 1 is Law Day in which lawyers in America celebrate our heritage of liberty under law. If we can agree on a film, I'll see about getting the State Theatre for a PSULaw Law Day event. All you need to do is to add your nomination as a comment below.

11 comments:

Jeffrey H. Kahn said...

There is no issue: Anatomy of a Murder.

Arthur James Wenzel said...

I think we should show Legally Blonde. Reese Witherspoon gives a masterful performance as a 1L who goes into the law on the heels of her ex-boyfriend only to find a calling to a profession, giving a realistic portrayal of what life is the law is really like...

...I'm entirely kidding. As for my nomination: The Verdict. A Few Good Men and My Cousin Vinny are routinely shown on television, whereas I can't remember the last time I saw The Verdict broadcast.

Alison M. Kilmartin said...

The Firm cannot go unmentioned here, but I vote first for My Cousin Vinny and second for A Few Good Men. What is it about Tom Cruise playing scrappy lawyers, he is just so believable!

Alison M. Kilmartin said...

P.S. A movie for the whole school to watch is a fabulous idea. Professor Kinports and I were just talking about making arrangements for Michael Clayton to be viewed. This idea, however, is much better.

Kelly J. Bozanic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly J. Bozanic said...

All good choices, but I would like to add: To Kill a Mockingbird and Judgment at Nuremberg to the list.

This is a wonderful idea, no matter which film is selected! Now, if only Law Day weren't four days before finals . . .

dominic said...

I'm with Professor Kahn. Nothing tops Anatomy of a Murder. Although Miracle on 34th Street deserves an honorable mention (Using the Post Office to save Santa? Brilliant!).

Jim Chen said...

I recommend Jurassic Park. Munch: that's what lawyers are good for. If you reject that out of hand, then I counteroffer Legally Blonde. Just part 1, though I wouldn't object to a Reese Witherspoon double feature.

I can't believe that no one has mentioned The Paper Chase, Soul Man, or any other movie about law school proper. And has no one ever seen Twelve Angry Men?

Alison: You named a Grisham film -- with approval. For shame! :-) But you redeemed yourself with Michael Clayton, which is an inspired choice.

Alison M. Kilmartin said...

I am an unashamed reader of the early Grisham novels. I know many turn their noses up at Grisham, uncluding you Dean Chen, but for me reading him was what watching Law & Order was for many others. His recent attempts have been less than stimulating, but for a then junior high/high school student they were great fun.

Jim Chen said...

Dear Alison,

I stand by my (arguably snobbish) refusal to give any more money to John Grisham, either by way of the trade paperback or by way of royalties on movies derived from his books. I've regretted every minute I've ever wasted on Grisham.

That said, I do understand why people like courtroom dramas. They like law (I guess I can't really understand why), and Grisham feeds that need. My complaint is that he does so with so little literary grace.

Bah. Grisham wins the real battle. Any given hour, he sells more books and videos than I will sell over the course of my lifetime. Grisham 1, Chen 0.

Cheers,
Jim Chen

Jim Chen said...

I can't resist commenting on this post over and over ....

Having just watched Unforgiven again for the nth time, I nominate this iconic anti-Western as an entry illustrating the problems of justice and vengeance.