The Verdict

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The Verdict is a 1982 courtroom drama film which tells the story of a down-on-his-luck alcoholic lawyer who pushes a medical malpractice case in order to improve his own situation, but discovers along the way that he is doing the right thing. Since the lawsuit involves a woman in a persistent vegetative state, the movie is cast in the shadow of the Karen Ann Quinlan case. The movie stars Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason, Milo O'Shea, and Lindsay Crouse.

Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film was adapted by David Mamet from the novel by Barry Reed and is not a remake of the 1946 film of the same name.

The Verdict was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Paul Newman), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (James Mason), Best Director (Sidney Lumet), Best Picture and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (David Mamet).



Frank Galvin (Paul Newman), once a promising Boston lawyer, is now an alcoholic ambulance chaser who has lost all of his four cases over the last three years. As a favor, his friend Mickey (Jack Warden) throws him a medical malpractice case where it's all but assured that the defense will settle for a large amount. The case involves a young mother who was possibly administered the wrong anesthetic and is now in a coma. The relatives of the mother are hoping for the settlement and Frank assures them they have a strong case.

Frank visits the coma-stricken young mother and is deeply affected. He then meets with the defendants: The Archdiocese of Boston, who run the Catholic hospital where the incident took place. As expected, the archdiocese offers a fair amount of money to settle out of court, but Frank declines the offer, as he fears that this may be his last chance to do right as a lawyer and taking the money would make him "lost." Everyone, including the presiding judge and the mother's relatives, is stunned by Frank's decision.

Things quickly go wrong for Frank. His star medical witness bails on him; his opponent, the high-priced attorney Ed Concannon (James Mason), has a large team at his disposal and is masterful with the press; and no one wants to talk about what, if anything, went wrong in the emergency room on the day in question. Frank discovers that Laura (Charlotte Rampling), his new lover, was hired by the defense's law firm to spy on him. He refuses to give up, even when he has the opportunity to have the case declared a mistrial. Though his case is somewhat weak at times, he concludes with an impassioned final speech calling the jury to pursue truth and justice. The jury sides with Frank and awards the family a large, but unstated, amount of money.

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