The Best Drama In The Courtroom

Now that the air outside is getting a little nippy, it’s time to start burrowing down indoors to keep warm and toasty for the winter.

What better way to keep you entertained than some of the best movies ever made?

The American Film Institute (AFI) has compiled “America’s Greatest Films in 10 Classic Genres.” The genres include Animation, Romantic Comedy, Western, Sports, Mystery, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Gangster, Courtroom Drama and Epic.

The Vignette will bring you all 100 of these classic films in 10 parts. Today, we bring you the ninth in our series: Courtroom Drama.

AFI’s Top 10 Courtroom Drama Films:

AFI defines “courtroom drama” as a genre of film in which a system of justice plays a critical role in the film’s narrative.

#1 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Release Date: Mar 1963
Duration (in mins): 129
Cast:

Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch)
Frank Overton (Sheriff Heck Tate)
John Megna (Charles Baker “Dill” Harris)
Rosemary Murphy (Miss Maudie Atkinson)
Ruth White (Mrs. Dubose)
Director:

Robert Mulligan (Dir)
Joseph Kenny (Asst dir)
Writer:

Horton Foote (Scr)
Producer:

Alan J. Pakula (Prod)
Distribution Company:

Universal-International Films
Production Company:

Brentwood Productions
AFI Recognition:

100 YEARS…100 MOVIES #34
100 YEARS…100 STARS #12
100 YEARS…100 HEROES & VILLAINS #1
100 YEARS OF FILM SCORES #17
100 YEARS…100 CHEERS #2
100 YEARS…100 MOVIES – 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION #25

Summary:

In a small Alabama town in 1932, Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer, strives to create for his two children, 6-year-old Scout and her 10-year-old brother, Jem, an atmosphere free from hatred and prejudice. The youngsters lead a carefree life, racing about the town, jeering at eccentric Mrs. Dubose, and frightening themselves and their new friend, 6-year-old Dill Harris, with exaggerated stories about Boo Radley, a mentally retarded neighbor whom they have never seen.

#2 12 ANGRY MEN

Release Date: Apr 1957
Duration (in mins): 90 or 95
Cast:

Henry Fonda (Juror 8, Davis)
Lee J. Cobb (Juror 3)
Ed Begley (Juror 10)
E. G. Marshall (Juror 4)
Jack Warden (Juror 7)
Director:

Sidney Lumet (Dir)
Donald Kranze (Asst dir)
Writer:

Reginald Rose (Story and scr)
Producer:

Henry Fonda (Prod)
Reginald Rose (Prod)
Distribution Company:

United Artists Corp.
Production Company:

Orion-Nova Productions
AFI Recognition:

100 YEARS…100 THRILLS #88
100 YEARS…100 HEROES & VILLAINS #28
100 YEARS…100 CHEERS #42
100 YEARS…100 MOVIES – 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION #87
Summary:

At the close of a murder trial conducted in a New York City courtroom, the judge gives the jury its final instructions, reminding them that a guilty verdict will mean an automatic death sentence for the defendant, a Puerto Rican youth accused of killing his father.

#3 KRAMER VS KRAMER

Release Date: 19 Dec 1979
Duration (in mins): 105
Cast:

Dustin Hoffman (Ted Kramer)
Meryl Streep (Joanna Kramer)
Jane Alexander (Margaret Phelps)
Justin Henry (Billy Kramer)
Howard Duff (John Shaunessy)
Director:

Robert Benton
Writer:

Robert Benton
Producer:

Stanley R. Jaffe
Distribution Company:

Sony Pictures Releasing
Production Company:

Stanley Jaffe Productions
AFI Recognition:

NONE
Summary:

Returning home late from work one night, a career-obsessed Ted Kramer is told by his wife, Joanna, that she is leaving him. After a lifetime of being “somebody’s wife,” she’s going off to find herself, leaving Ted to care for their six-year-old son. Ted, while trying to hold down his job, gets to really know his son as few fathers do: cooking his meals, taking him to the park, understanding every need and fear. For the first time in his life he feels like a fulfilled parent.

#4 THE VERDICT

Release Date: 8 Dec 1982
Duration (in mins): 128
Cast:

Paul Newman (Frank Galvin)
Charlotte Rampling (Laura Fischer)
Jack Warden (Mickey Morrissey)
James Mason (Ed Concannon)
Milo O’Shea (Judge Hoyle)
Director:

Sidney Lumet
Writer:

David Mamet
Producer:

Richard D. Zanuck
David Brown
Distribution Company:

20th Century Fox
Production Company:

Zanuck/Brown Company
AFI Recognition:

100 YEARS…100 CHEERS #75
Summary:

Frank Galvin, an alcoholic lawyer tries to redeem his reputation by taking on a difficult medical malpractice case. He accepts the case after he’s approached by the the family of a woman who has been left in a coma following an operation at a large Catholic hospital. At first he’s hoping for a quick cash settlement, but when he see’s the victim in the hospital he decides that he must take the case to trial, despite the powerful opposition.

#5 A FEW GOOD MEN

Release Date: 11 Dec 1992
Duration (in mins): 138
Cast:

Tom Cruise (Lieutenant J G Daniel Kaffe)
Jack Nicholson (Colonel Nathan R Jessep)
Demi Moore (Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway)
Kevin Bacon (Captain Jack Ross)
Kiefer Sutherland (Lieutenant Jonathan Kendrick)
Director:

Rob Reiner
Writer:

Aaron Sorkin
Producer:

David Brown
Rob Reiner
Distribution Company:

Sony Pictures Releasing International (SPRI)
Production Company:

Manhattan Project
AFI Recognition:

100 YEARS…100 MOVIE QUOTES #29
Summary:

Navy lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee is assigned to defend two Marines, Pfc. Louden Downey and Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson, who are accused of the murder of fellow leatherneck Pfc. William Santiago at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

#6 WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

Release Date: Feb 1958
Duration (in mins): 114-115
Cast:

Tyrone Power (Leonard Vole)
Marlene Dietrich (Christine Vole)
Charles Laughton (Sir Wilfrid [Robarts])
Elsa Lanchester (Miss Plimsoll)
John Williams (Brogan-Moore)
Director:

Billy Wilder (Dir)
Emmett Emerson (Asst dir)
Writer:

Billy Wilder (Scr)
Harry Kurnitz (Scr)
Producer:

Edward Small (Pres)
Arthur Hornblow (Prod)
Distribution Company:

United Artists Corp.
Production Company:

Edward Small Productions, Inc.
AFI Recognition:

NONE
Summary:

Following a lengthy hospital stay for a near-fatal heart attack, famed London barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts returns to his combined office and lodgings near The Old Bailey, accompanied by his overbearing nurse, Miss Plimsoll. Sir Wilfrid chafes at her constant vigilance and becomes despondent at the thought that he may no longer be able to try criminal cases. That afternoon, Mayhew, a friend and solicitor, arrives unannounced to discuss an urgent case.

#7 ANATOMY OF A MURDER

Release Date: Jul 1959
Duration (in mins): 160-161
Cast:

James Stewart (Paul “Polly” Biegler)
Lee Remick (Laura Manion)
Ben Gazzara (Lt. Frederick Manion)
Arthur O’Connell (Parnell McCarthy)
Eve Arden (Maida Rutledge)
Director:

Otto Preminger (Dir)
David Silver (Asst dir)
Writer:

Wendell Mayes (Scr)
Producer:

Otto Preminger (Pres)
Otto Preminger (Prod)
Distribution Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
Production Company:

Carlyle Productions, Inc.
AFI Recognition:

NONE
Summary:

Ever since losing his bid for reelection as the district attorney of Iron City, Michigan, attorney Paul “Polly” Biegler has sought solace in his two favorite hobbies, playing jazz on the piano and fishing. One day, when a woman named Laura Manion phones Paul and begs him to represent her husband Frederick, who has been arrested for murder, Parnell McCarthy, a lapsed lawyer who views life through the bottom of a liquor bottle, urges his friend Paul to accept.

#8 IN COLD BLOOD

Release Date: 14 Dec 1967
Duration (in mins): 134
Cast:

Robert Blake (Perry Smith)
Scott Wilson (Dick Hickock)
John Forsythe (Alvin Dewey)
Paul Stewart (Reporter)
Gerald S. O’Loughlin (Harold Nye)
Director:

Richard Brooks (Dir)
Tom Shaw (Asst dir)
Writer:

Richard Brooks (Scr)
Producer:

Richard Brooks (Prod)
Distribution Company:

Columbia Pictures
Production Company:

Pax Enterprises
AFI Recognition:

NONE
Summary:

At 2:00 a.m. on November 15, 1959, in the farming town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Herbert Clutter family are roused from their sleep, bound and gagged, and then brutally murdered by two assailants. The killers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, had first met in a state prison where the arrogant Dick picked out the quick-tempered Perry, aspirin-addicted as a result of the lingering pain of leg injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, as the “born killer” he needed for a partner.

#9 A CRY IN THE DARK

Release Date: 11 Nov 1988
Duration (in mins): 121
Cast:

Meryl Streep (Lindy Chamberlain)
Sam Neill (Michael Chamberlain)
Jason Reason (Aidan–Age 11)
Trent Roberts (Reagan–Age 9)
Brian James (Cliff Murchison)
Director:

Fred Schepisi
Writer:

Robert Caswell
Fred Schepisi
Producer:

Verity Lambert
Distribution Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Production Company:

Cannon Films Inc
AFI Recognition:

NONE
Summary:

While visiting the Ayers rock monument in the Outback with her husband Michael, Lindy notices a dingo creeping into the tent where her baby lies sleeping. Seconds later, the horrified woman discovers that her child is gone. Despite Lindy’s anguished insistence that the dingo killed her baby, the Australian public is of the opinion that Lindy herself is the murderer. This lynch-mob atmosphere is fueled by the press, which insists upon crucifying the Chamberlains in print on a daily basis.

#10 JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG

Release Date: 19 Dec 1961
Duration (in mins): 190
Cast:

Spencer Tracy (Judge Dan Haywood)
Burt Lancaster (Ernst Janning)
Richard Widmark (Col. Tad Lawson)
Marlene Dietrich (Madame Bertholt)
Maximilian Schell (Hans Rolfe)
Director:

Stanley Kramer (Dir)
Writer:

Abby Mann (Scr)
Producer:

Stanley Kramer
Stanley Kramer (Prod)
Distribution Company:

United Artists
Production Company:

Roxlom Films
AFI Recognition:

NONE
Summary:

In 1948 Dan Haywood, an American judge recently defeated for reelection in Maine, arrives in Nuremberg to preside over the trial of several German judges accused of destroying law and justice to support Hitler’s infamous mandates which took the lives of 6 million innocent people. From the moment the prosecuting attorney, Col. Tad Lawson, makes his emotion-packed opening statements, it is obvious that he is determined to obtain the maximum punishment for the judges.

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Posted by on Nov 19 2010. Filed under A&E, Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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