Legal Research and Writing:  Ted Tjaden


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Law-Related Movies Top 10


Movies - Home Page
"A to Z" List of Law-Related Movies
Movies Organized by Substantive Law Subject
Court Martial Movies
Courtroom Dramas

Inspirational Lawyer Movies
Prison-Related Movies
Top 10

Set out below are the top 10 movies from my "A to Z" list, as chosen by me:

Breaker Morant (1980). Starring Edward Woodward, Jack Thompson. An excellent Australian court-martial movie set in the time of the Boer War. Three Australian lieutenants are treated as scapegoats when prosecuted for executing prisoners of war. Strong performance by their defence lawyer. Read the original New York Times review here. Available here on Netflix.

The Castle (1997). Starring Michael Caton. An extremely hilarious Australian comedy dealing with, of all things, expropriation (hence the title, which stems from the saying "A man's home is his castle"). Some hilarious courtroom scenes. Laugh-out-loud funny. See Roger Ebert's review (3 out of 4 stars).

A Fish Called Wanda (1998). Starring John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Eric Idle and Jamie Lee Curtis. A hilarious movie in which John Cleese plays a barrister who gets tangled up with a group of bungling diamond thieves. Extremely funny. Only marginally law related but the funny scenes with Cleese getting caught dancing in the buff are worth it. Read Roger Ebert's review (4 out of 4 stars).

Gandhi (1982). Starring Ben Kingsley and a cast of thousands. Directed by Richard Attenborough. An epic story of the life of Mahatma Gandhi who started as a lawyer in South Africa and who end up liberating India from British domination through his policies of non-violence. Read the New York Times original review here.

Let Him Have It (1991). Based on a true story in the early 1950's in England where two young men are tried for and found guilty of the murder of a policeman. One of the young men avoids the death penalty because of his age but the other is hanged, despite his having the mental capacity of a young child. Gripping courtroom scenes (based on actual transcripts). An excellent movie. Read Roger Ebert's review (3.5 out of 4 stars).

The Paper Chase (1973). Starring Timothy Bottoms, Lindsay "The Bionic Woman" Wagner and John Houseman as Professor Kingsfield. The now classic "must see" movie for law students about the struggles of a first-year law student and the battles he faces with his contracts professor (especially after he finds out he has been dating his daughter). Now somewhat dated, it is still a lot of fun to watch. Note the scenes with the law librarian. Parts of the movie were filmed in Toronto. Houseman won the Academy Award for his performance. Read the original New York Times review here.

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002). Directed by Phillip Noyce and stars Kenneth Branagh. Based on the true story of 3 aboriginal girls ("half-castes") taken from their Aboriginal mothers and placed in a government residential school to be "domesticated". The movie documents their attempts to return to their families across the Outback, following a rabbit-proof fence. Read Roger Ebert's review (3.5 out of 4 stars).

Reversal of Fortune (1990). Starring Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons and Ron Silver. Based on the true life story where Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz agrees to handle the appeal of the conviction of socialite Claus von Bulow for the attempted murder of his wife. Good dramatization of the work done by Dershowitz and his students in preparing for the appeal. Read Roger Ebert's review (4 out of 4 stars).

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. A solid dramatization of Harper Lee's novel telling the story of Atticus Finch and his daughter Scout and how Atticus defends a black man wrongfully charged with rape in a racially-biased environment. Peck won the Best Actor Oscar. Read the original New York Times review here.

The Verdict (1982). Starring Paul Newman, James Mason. Directed by Sidney Lumet. A good courtroom drama involving Paul Newman as a down-and-out lawyer who is forced to "crash" funerals and wakes looking to drum up business. When he takes a medical malpractice case on a contingency basis, he encounters a strong defence from the defendant. Make sure to yell "objection" in a loud voice during some of the courtroom scenes where rules of civil procedure are ignored in favour of dramatic tension. Read Roger Ebert's 4 star review here. Read the original New York Times review here.

Last updated: January 2016   |    Legal / Terms of Use    |    Ted Tjaden 2010-2016

  Cover of 4th edition of Legal Research and Writing
                (Irwin Law)

Legal Research and Writing:
4th Edition

by Ted Tjaden

Softcover 512 pgs.
Published: January 2016
Paperback: 978-1-55221-414-5
Ebook: 978-1-55221-415-2

Purchase here


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