February 27th, 2011

Lawyers and Courtrooms and Movies (My Top 11)

The Oscars are tonight. Cue the applause.

OK, kill the applause. Most Hollywood stuff seems geared to how it can suck the most money out of moviegoers, without regard to quality. That’s why we see so many godawful sequels and “franchise” films. Cue the cynicism. It seems more appropriate.

Nevertheless, as the decades roll by, Hollywood has managed some memorable lines out of lawyers and courtrooms.  And these are my top 11, because any schmo can do a Top Ten (and because, as they say in Spinal Tap, 11 is one louder than 10):

1.  Al Pacino as Arthur Kirkland in …And Justice For All (Trailer):

I’ve just completed my opening statement.

2. Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind (Spencer Tracy Courtroom speech)(Trailer):

The Bible is a book. It’s a good book, but it is not the only book.

3.  Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini in My Cousin Vinny (trailer):

I’m finished with this guy.

4.  George Voskovec as Juror #11 in 12 Angry Men)(trailer) – The exterior courthouse shot, by the way, is Supreme Court in Manhattan where I tried my first case, and it looks the same today:

He’s right. That’s not an answer. What kind of a man are you? You have sat here and voted “guilty” with everyone else because there are some baseball tickets burning a hole in your pocket? And now you’ve changed your vote because you say you’re sick of all the talking here?

5.  Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (Trailer):

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

6. Denzel Washington as Joe Miller in Philadelphia (trailer):

Now, explain it to me like I’m a four-year-old.

7. Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovitch in Erin Brockovitch (trailer), on signing up all the clients:

Well, um, seeing as how I have no brains or legal expertise, and Ed here was losing all faith in the system, am I right?…I just went out there and performed sexual favors. Six hundred and thirty-four sexual favors… I’m really quite tired.

8.  Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessep in A Few Good Men. (Speech from the witness stand, “You want me on that wall.”):

You can’t handle the truth!

9. Woody Allen as Fielding Mellish in Bananas (courtroom scene):

I object, your honor! This trial is a travesty. It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.

10.  Timothy Bottoms as Hart and John Houseman as Kingsfield in The Paper Chase (Clip)

Hart: You… are a SON OF A BITCH, Kingsfield.

Kingsfield: Mr. Hart! That is the most intelligent thing you’ve said all day. You may take your seat.

11.  José Ferrer as Barney Greenwald in The Caine Mutiny (though the clip is Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg falling apart on the witness stand):

I don’t want to upset you too much, but at the moment you have an excellent chance of being hanged.

Yeah, I’m sure you have think there are others that are better. Perhaps Groucho and Chico Marx in Duck Soup and Chicolini’s trial for treason, or the Note from the jury in The Verdict, asking if they could give more in damages than had been asked for (trailer). And maybe a dozen more…feel free to let me know…