As this is a film based on a David Mamet (The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Untouchables) screenplay and starring Paul Newman you know it is going to be raw and well acted. It does not disappoint as either a courtroom drama or a study of this one interesting character.
Both the film and the lead actor were nominated for Oscars for the film. Paul Newman embodies this character who is a drunken washed up attourney who suddenly sees his chance for redemption personally and career-wise with this one case. Newman is no longer the blue-eyed hunk but rather an older beaten down man. As opposed to all the confident characters he had previously portrayed this one is full of self-doubt and Newman makes it completely believable. The man is searching for redemption and meaning in his life and we feel all of his desire. Surrounded by a great cast, Newman still manages to stand head and shoulders above everyone. It certainly became one of the roles that was closely associated with Paul Newman.
With the plodding (very un-Mamet like) script and direction by Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico) we are given the time to absorb what is happening and truly understand what the lead character is going through. Like a good wine what is happening onscreen is made that much better because it is given a chance to breathe. It is a film from years back in which you could never truly say was overrated. It will not ever seem dated as it is in essence a well-done character study.
Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) is an alcoholic Boston lawyer whose career has been in the toilet for many years. His best friend and fellow lawyer, Mickey (Jack Warden – The Replacements, Mighty Aphrodite), hands him a big money case which should be settled out of court. Galvin is expected to just take the win and the money, but once he looks at it he cannot do that.
A woman who went into the hospital to give birth has somehow ended up a vegetable. The hospital says that it was because she gave some misinformation to the anesthesiologist, but her sister, Sally (Roxanne Hart – Highlander, The Good Girl), claims malpractice. Galvin is to argue the case against a huge firm led by the formidable Ed Concannon (James Mason – Heaven Can Wait, Lolita – 1962). He risks everything when he does not accept the settlement and no one, including himself, truly believes that he can win.
-Paul Newman: The Craft of Acting
● Milestones in Cinema History: The Verdict
● Sidney Lumet: The Craft of Directing
● Two Additional Featurettes