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List of Law-Related Movies
Movies Organized by
Substantive Law Subject
Court Martial Movies
(2016). Directed by Ava DuVernay. This
documentary, nominated for best documentary in
2016 by the Academy Awards and by the same
film-maker of Selma,
takes its title from the
13th Amendment of the US Constitution,
which abolished slavery. By focusing on the
disproportionate amount of African-Americans
(and other people of color) in US jails, the
film discusses US history following the
abolishment of slavery and the extent to which
the exception in the 13th amendment for
"punishment for crime" has substituted the
initial form of abolished slavery into one
that has seen Jim Crow laws, segregation, and
mass incarceration as a new form of slavery.
The movie has a
very high approval rating on Rotten
Tomatoes, hovering in the 97% range.
(2002). This Rob Marshall-directed musical is
on the periphery of being considered a
law-related movie, but the character of Billy
Flynn as a sleazy lawyer, played admirably by
Richard Gere, puts it on the edge of falling
within my definition (plus I liked it – not
too many law-related movies can claim good
dancing and music). Read Roger Ebert's review
(2019). Written and directed by Chinonye
Chukwu and starring Alfre Woodard as a prison
warden and the tolls taken on her in carrying
out sentences of death. The film has a Rotten Tomatoes score in
the low 90 percent range.
Man Walking (1995). Starring
Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn. A well told story
of a nun (played by Susan Sarandon) who visits
and cares for a prisoner on death row (played
by Sean Penn). The movie raises important
questions about the ethics of the death
penalty versus the impact of crime on victims
and their families and spirituality and
forgiveness. Read Roger
Ebert's review (4 out of 4 stars).
Hurricane (1999). Starring
Denzel Washington. Directed by Norman Jewison.
Tells the true story of Rubin "Hurricane"
Carter's wrongful imprisonment on murder
charges and the efforts made by his lawyers to
free him from prison. Read Roger
Ebert's review (3.5 out of 4 stars).
Carter was an Executive Director of the Association in
Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, an
organization based, in part, out of Toronto.
at Oglala (1992). A
documentary narrated by Robert Redford and
directed by Roger Apted. Tells the story of
Leonard Pelletier who was, some say,
wrongfully convicted of the murder of two FBI
agents on the Pine Ridge reservation in South
Dakota. Read Roger
Ebert's review (3 out of 4 stars).
in the First (1995).
Starring Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon and
Gary Oldman. Christian Slater plays a young
lawyer who takes on the case of a prisoner of
Alcatraz who is wrongfully put into solitary
confinement for years and becomes insane as a
result. Strong courtroom (and prison) scenes
Ebert's review (2 of out 4 stars).
Red Corner (1997).
Richard Gere stars as an American
television executive in China who ends up
being charged with the murder of a Chinese
girl he meets in the bar the night before, Bai
Ling plays his defence lawyer with the movie
focusing on the "challenges" within the
Chinese criminal legal system. Roger Ebert,
who was not a fan of this movie, describes it
in part as "a xenophobic travelogue crossed
with Perry Mason." Read his 2 star review
Shawshank Redemption (1994).
Starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman. A prison
drama telling the story of Andy Dufresne
(played by Robbins) who is sentenced to jail
in the 1940's for the murder of his wife and
her lover. He develops a unique friendship
with a prisoner named "Red" (played by Morgan
Freeman) as the two men pass their lives,
seeking for meaning, in a drab, dreary prison
environment. Read Roger
Ebert's review (3.5 out of 4 stars).
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