Judicial debate gets a lively cinematic treatment in First Monday in October, starring the odd couple pairing of Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh. When a justice of the Supreme Court dies, his appointed replacement is ... more »a witty but deeply conservative woman, Ruth Loomis (Clayburgh, An Unmarried Woman, Silver Streak). Loomis immediately raises the hackles of Dan Snow (Matthau, The Bad News Bears, California Suite), a fervent liberal in the minority on the bench. For a while, First Monday in October succeeds in making Loomis and Snow's debates about pornography and censorship lucid and engaging, aided greatly by the actors' obvious intelligence and grasp of the issues. But the movie gets sidetracked by an aimless corporate conspiracy plot and what can only be described as an intellectual romance between the two leads, which never quite catches fire. Still, an interesting effort. --Bret Fetzer« less
"This is one film where Matthau doesn't go completely "over the top". He and Clayburgh make a great team; I'm surprised they weren't coupled in other projects later.Add Barnard Hughes as "Mr. Chief Justice" into the mix, and you have banter and badinage at its best!"
SUPREMELY Left of Center ~ ~
mcHaiku | Brown County INDIANA | 10/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Give me a break! a HEALING break with plenty of laughs, that is.
Hurrah for the comic relief brought to us in "The First Monday in October" - - This movie should be watched by all who have serious business with the Supreme Court: justices, law clerks, picketers among others. Even if this movie were meant to be an art film - or one that snobby critics could cleverly rip apart - Why not decide right now that it is a romantic comedy & perfectly appropriate to watch this "First (Week) of October" for some much-needed healing that laughter will bring?
It is hard to imagine more stressful days in 'our times.' Our sides need to ache from laughter instead of disgust over all the bungling of bureaucrats. The play on which this 1981 movie was based pre-dates the appointment of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to the court, by the way. Who cares that Jill Clayburgh is younger than the current justice-candidate? She is a worthy foil for Walter Matthau who 'nails' the situation when he grumps: "When a man moves into the White House you never know what will happen to his mind." Matthau is Oh! so comfortable in his curmudgeonly role as an outspoken liberal-minded justice.
Among other lines that endear him to me: "The telephone has NO constitutional right to be answered." The opening close-ups -- exterior shots of the Supreme Court building -- are more striking than any shown on newscasts the first Monday of (this 2005) October session. Marble and granite do enhance any serious debates that may follow . . . & I did enjoy the HANDEL, Bernie!
mcHAIKU says "Allow yourself some laughs - - Toast your good health -- and write your senators!" "
A Treat for Smart People
Joseph Harris | Kaysville, UT United States | 05/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's always a pleasure to see a movie that presents both sides of a complex issue (in this case, liberals vs. conservatives) in an even-handed and enjoyable way. The characterization of First Monday is superb, particularly the antagonism between Matthau and Clayburgh. I chuckled numerous times over the dialog. Example: after hearing that the chief justice had flowers sent to the new female Supreme Court justice, Matthau muttered, "How come you don't send ME flowers anymore, CJ"? I hope this movie is released sometime in DVD, in letterbox, along with commentary."
Michael L. Peterlin | East Lansing, MI | 01/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First Monday in October is a delight to view. It is accurate in picturing the inside of the Supreme Court and it is true to life in many of it's characters and issues. Matthau's character uses strong language which is a little off-putting but it is consistent with the character he portrays. In a world which is experiencing the vanishing of an ability to appreciate true "characters" this film is a refreshing reminder that characters are the spice of our society and play a valuable role. Very funny as well as entertaining."
Matthau is Supreme
Movie Mania | Southern Calfornia | 12/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The First Monday in October refers to the first day the Supreme Court is in session each year. On Broadway it starred Henry Fonda and Martha Scott. Ms. Scott produced the film version.
This is about the appointment of the first woman on the Supreme Court.
Associate Justice Daniel Snow (Walter Matthau) is a liberal judge. When an associate justice dies, the President appoints a woman. When AJ Snow finds out that it's a woman, he gets excited. That is until he finds out that it is Ruth Loomis "the Mother Superior of Orange County."
Like the play, this is a movie about ideas from the extremes. Very controversial subjects of the time, pornography and big business, were chosen. The questions are simple but the answers are complex. This is a film to listen to and enjoy. You may not agree with what is being said but it will make you think.
This is not a perfect film. At times it's preachy and at the end it makes a wrong turn but it is still worthwhile. What is most important is this film makes you understand that there are two sides to each question and both need to be heard to understand the question.