Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Verdict

Frank Galvin is a washed up attorney with a failing private practice who spends his time handing out his business card at funerals and playing pinball while getting drunk at the local watering hole. One day, his old partner does him a favor and throws him a case involving a young woman who was incorrectly administered anesthesia at the Diocesan of Boston hospital and now lies in a vegetative state. Visiting the woman in order to take photographs to secure an easy settlement, Frank is moved by the woman's condition and sees in this case a chance to redeem both her life and his own. "The Verdict" is a remarkable courtroom drama made strong by a triumvirate of artists. For Paul Newman, his work as the alcoholic Galvin represents the finest in a career of illustrious roles. He inhabits the role of a desperate and passionate man, and his final appeal to the jury is truly excellent. The unsung director Sidney Lumet demonstrates his prowess as well, impeccably capturing the city of Boston and finding just the right tone, angles, and colors to tell his story. This also represents a great early film credit of playwright David Mamet who received an Oscar nomination for penning the screenplay. Additionally, the supporting cast is top notch as well which includes James Mason as the ferocious defense attorney for the Catholic diocese, Jack Warden as Newman's long suffering law partner, and Charlotte Rampling whose role is slightly flimsy, but is excellent nonetheless as a woman who figures into Newman's life. "The Verdict" can be seen as a top notch cast and crew giving their best work to a stellar, intelligent courtroom drama that avoids the trappings of the genre.