PRESUMED INNOCENT is a disturbing murder mystery told in the style director Alan J. Pakula (ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN) enjoys best. Harrison Ford (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER) plays prosecuting attorney... more » Rusty Sabich, who is deeply shaken by the sudden rape and murder of a colleague and former love interest. Sabich is assigned to the case, which becomes clouded by both personal and political interests that are in conflict. An adaptation of Scott Turow's best-selling novel, the film presents an intense look at the human flaws of ambition, greed and lust.« less
Jennifer D. (jennicat) from ST AUGUSTINE, FL Reviewed on 12/19/2014...
Sharon F. from HIALEAH, FL Reviewed on 7/28/2012...
Loved this movie! Great acting and suspence, one turn after another.
Cornered by the Fates
William Hare | Seattle, Washington | 01/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Harrison Ford gives a riveting performance of a man cornered by fate, with so many facts staring him in the face that it is hard for others to believe that he has not killed femme fatale Greta Scacchi, his co-worker in the public prosecutor's office who abruptly terminated an affair with him when he refused to try and take his boss Brian Dennehy's job away from him and provide her with the top deputy's post. The femme fatale prosecutor, highly ambitious, also had an affair with Dennehy as well as Paul Winfield, the judge who presides over Ford's murder trial.As typical in legal circles, a cornered defendant lawyer seeking to prove his or her innocence to a jury hires a respected adversary to defend his or her cause. After all, who has a better idea of a lawyer's worth than someone who has tangled in courtroom battle with that same individual? In this case prosecutor Ford calls on talented defense attorney Raul Julia to represent him. Ford is crushed to quickly learn after hiring Julia that Dennehy, the boss he refused to conspire against, after losing a bid for reelection reveals that he will testify against his former chief assistant.Also coming into the fascinating mix is the neurotic wife of Ford, played by Bonnie Bedelia, who was well aware of his tryst with his fellow prosecutor. Bedelia plays a key role in the drama which is not resolved until after Ford's trial has played itself out. Director Alan J. Pakula, the master of suspense filmmaking who previously gave us "All The President's Men" and "Klute," keeps the action moving at a quick pace. The trial scenes are particularly well done and move briskly. The adversary nature of a hard-nosed murder trial is convincingly presented."
Guilty or Not Guilty?
Amy Ford | Ft. Worth, TX USA | 12/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are looking for a suspenseful movie with unsuspecting twists and turns, complete with a surprise ending, Presumed Innocent should fulfill your needs. It is an incredible film that takes place in a corrupt judicial system. Harrison Ford plays a chief deputy and highly regarded prosecutor who is appointed to the homicide case of his fellow co-worker and former lover. Reluctant to agree because of remaining emotional ties and fear of hurting his wife all over again, Ford finally gives in to appease his demanding boss. He is not on the case long before there is a turn of events, and instead of looking for a defendant, he becomes the defendant.What makes this movie so interesting and appealing is that throughout the duration of the film, the viewer is left trying to decipher whether Ford is guilty or not. Incriminating events, such as a note from the deceased the day after the murder reading "I know it's you," are overturned with convenient coincidences, manufactured evidence, and uncovered relationships between others, leave you wondering. It is not until the very end that the surprising truth is revealed. I was extremely impressed by this captivating film and highly recommend it."
Ohboy, ohboy, ohboy!
Peggy Vincent | Oakland, CA | 04/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Scott Turow is just simply an outstanding legal thriller author, and, IMO, this is still his best. It's ambiguous, sneaky, freaky, scary, and realy believable. A lovely and very seductive lawyer is murdered, and it becomes clear she's been having an affair. Then, much to his amazement, damning evidence points to the prosecuting attorney (played awfully well by Harrison Ford) as the prime suspect, esp when his superior (and a possible other suspect) sets him up for the fall.
And then there's Ford's odd possibly mentally ill wife...
Super good all the way through, and it'll keep you guessing as long as you don't read any reviews that give it away."
Was justice served? Is anyone truly innocent? *Spoilers*
Justin Bost | Salisbury, NC | 12/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These are the issues that are explored in this film, directed by Alan J. Pakula, adapted from the best selling novel by Scott Turow. It is the story of chief deputy prosecutor Rozat "Rusty" Sabich (Ford) in the fictional Kindle County, whose seemingly normal life is shattered by the murder of a female colleague, Carolyn Polhemus (Scacchi). A colleague with whom he had previously engaged in an affair and whom he had stalked when she had broken off the affair.
Any illusions you may have about the integrity of the criminal justice system (in this fictional world) are swept away quickly. Sabich is coerced into heading the investigation of Polhemus' murder by his boss, prosecuting attorney Raymond Horgan (Dennehy). That is, until Horgan loses his reelection campaign and new prosecuting attorney Nico Della Guardia (Mardirosian) and his second whip Tommy Molto (Grifasi) charge him with Polhemus' murder.
One of the great aspects of this movie is that Sabich, while heading the murder investigation, seems very conflicted about his previous encounters with Polhemus, who we only see in flashback sequences during the film. We don't know if this is because of his emotional and sexual connection to Polhemus, or because he is the murderer himself. Suspicions are raised concerning Sabich's guilt throughout the first third of the movie, e.g., his obstruction of his lead investigator Detective Lipranzer (Spencer) by ignoring fingerprint evidence. This becomes ammunition against him later when he becomes the defendant.
Sabich's wife Barbara (Bedelia) throws gasoline on the fire by constantly nettling Rusty about the previous affair, and, most important, Rusty's obsession with Polhemus which even her death could not end. Barbara tries to reconnect to Rusty during the movie, but it is clear that he deeply hurt her by the affair, and Rusty knows that he has a lot to atone for.
The net starts closing around Sabich fairly quickly in the second third of the movie. Everyone except Lipranzer is ready and willing to believe that Sabich is the murderer. Luckily, Sabich hires former adversary Sandy Stern (Julia) to defend him. Stern is an outstanding defense attorney, and his instincts eventually lead to a winning strategy that results in the dismissal of charges against Sabich. But, as Stern asks Sabich later in the film "was justice done?"
The forensic case that is prepared against Sabich is interesting because it predates the active use of DNA in criminal investigations. Also, the actions of the medical examiner "Painless" Kumagai (Shimono) alternate between the comical and ridiculous. Nevertheless, the trial that is the centerpiece of the movie is truly engrossing. The trial judge Larren Lyttle (Winfield) is quite amusing and speaks his mind.
What we come to realize by the middle of the film is that political intrigue, blackmail, and sex influence *everyone* in the film. Anyone even tangentially involved in the case is dirty in some respect. No one is innocent. Although you may guess the true identity of the murderer before the trial ends, I promise you will never forget the speech delivered in the denouement of the film. As Sabich says in the final minute of the film, "There was a crime. There was a victim. And there *is* punishment."
The John Williams score is quite haunting and will stay with you for some time. All of the principal actors (Ford, Bedelia, Julia, Winfield, Spencer, Mardirosian, Dennehy, Grifasi) deliver powerful performances. As a bit of trivia, Mardirosian and Grifasi later had guest appearances in the second season of a fledging TV series named Law & Order. Julia showed that he could play a serious role (unlike other roles in Street Fighter and Addams Family). As a previous reviewer noted, Julia should have garnered an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, as his performance carries the film from the second act forward.
Buy this movie, and appreciate its subtleties with a second and third viewing. I promise you won't be disappointed. Except of course, by the lack of extras (such as director commentary) on the DVD. Maybe one day a collector's edition will be released."