Sidney Lumet's riveting courtroom drama earned five Oscar(r) nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor for Paul Newman's towering performance as a down-and-out alcoholic attorney who stumbles onto one last chance t... more »o redeem himself. When attorney Frank Calvin (Newman) is given an open-and-shut medical malpractice case that no one thinks he can win, he courageously decides to refuse a settlement from the hospital. Instead he takes the case, and the entire legal system, to court.« less
Michael K. Beusch | San Mateo, California United States | 05/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"During the first 25 years of his career, Paul Newman played characters who were confident and self-assured. Being a great actor, Newman was always able to infuse his characters with frailties and vulnerabilities that made them well-rounded and three dimensional. From Rocky Graziano to Cool Hand Luke to Doug Roberts (The Towering Inferno), Newman played self-confident characters who were strong and took charge of a situation. Perhaps this lack of frailty is the reason why Newman was able to play much younger characters well into his 50's (in 1981's Absence of Malice, the audience fully accepted that the then 56 year old Newman could be romantically involved with the then 35 year old Sally Field).In The Verdict, however, Newman is almost shocking in his hesitancy and self doubt. As attorney Frank Galvin, life has beaten him down so much, he seems like a man far older than his years who is afraid to do anything for fear that tragedy and bad luck will once again crush him. For the first time, Newman seems more like a victim than a survivor -- stammering, hesitant, weak, alcoholic and defeated. Even his courtroom summation at the end of the film is halting and hesitant. In a film full of fine actors (James Mason, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, Milo O'Shea, Lindsay Crouse, etc.), Newman still manages to give the best performance. It's an unbelievably great performance and a great companion piece to The Hustler -- "Fast Eddie" Felson after life has chewed him up and spit him out.Unfortunately, Paul Newman, once again, did not win the Oscar for Best Actor -- Ben Kingsley won for Ghandi. Unlike with The Hustler, however, Newman wasn't really robbed, but was actually the victim of bad luck. Kingsley was born to play Ghandi and gave the performance of his life. In most other years, Newman probably would have run away with the Oscar. In 1982, however, he had the bad luck to be up against an actor who literally became one of the most revered and admired men in history. While no one can say that Kingsley didn't deserve the honor, it is still a shame that Paul Newman did not win an Oscar for his flawed, weak and defeated Frank Galvin.(For Part 1 see The Hustler)"
A Monumental Cinematic Treasure
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE VERDICT may date back to 1982, but few courtroom films since then can come close to matching the powerful production in this near perfect film written by David Mamet and directed with tension, grit, and tenderness by Sidney Lumet. Paul Newman's performance as the alcoholic has-been lawyer called upon to try a case of medical malpractice is one of the finest acting performances in history. He is more than ably abetted by his sidekick Jack Warden. The lawyer for the defense is the haughty and evil James Mason and the real surprise in the cast is Milo O'Shea in a terrifyingly real role of a smarmy Judge. Charlotte Rampling, still one of today's finest actresses, plays the understated love interest. Minor roles become major when they are in the hands of such gifted actors as Lindsay Crouse and Julia Bravasso. But one unsung hero of this fine film is the cinematographer who manages to make every shot appear like a Renaissance painting, so sensitive is he to light and shadow and frame composition.THE VERDICT is a powerful story of the underdog's struggle for truth in the judicial system and as such is a reminder of how the Law, when stripped to its essentials, is there to protect us. There is no pat ending, only a feeling of breathlessness as all of the details of the story are left to our imagination - well, almost. A strikingly powerful, meaningful, brilliantly executed film."
Paul Newman's Finest Performance, in Tale of Redemption...
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 06/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a career of unforgettable portrayals, "The Verdict" stands as Paul Newman's pinnacle; as a shattered idealistic lawyer, on an alcoholic road to self-destruction, finding a chance at redemption, he is absolutely perfect. With respect to Ben Kingsley, Newman SHOULD have won the 'Best Actor' Oscar in 1982!
Directed by Sidney Lumet, from a remarkably candid screenplay by David Mamet, this is a film that never makes a wrong step. Newman's 'Frank Galvin' is not heroic, or even likable, in the film's opening scenes, but he finds, in a simple malpractice suit, an injustice so blatant that he sees an opportunity to redeem himself...but he'll have to defeat a rich, duplicitous law firm (headed by legendary James Mason), argue before an indifferent judge (Milo O'Shea), and, worst of all, face betrayal from within his tiny circle of friends, if he has any hope of rising out of his personal 'hell'.
With a superb cast, including the remarkable Jack Warden as his ex-mentor/best friend, and Charlotte Rampling, as the woman he trusts far too much, "The Verdict" is raw, powerful, and occasionally disturbing, but never dull!
This new two-disc edition is certainly THE version to own, with commentary by Newman and Lumet, and an entire disc of extras, including Lumet and Newman's personal recollections, and several 'Making of' documentaries, from 1982, and today. You'll never find a more complete presentation of a truly extraordinary film!
There are few films that I can watch, again and again, and never grow tired of..."The Verdict" is one. Bravo to Newman, Lumet, Mamet, and everyone involved in creating this classic! "
The power of honor and the burden of obligation.
Christopher | Houston, TX United States | 04/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Years before I turned in my smelter rake and beer league softball glove for law school, I saw this movie which, even more than "Perry Mason" or "To Kill A Mockingbird", convinced me that lawyering remained an honorable profession. Frank Galvin is a drunk who rages his way through his office and his life. But Newman's character has his heart, if not his feet, in the right place. This movie is what lawyering is all about. Caring for someone who couldn't take care of herself, declining a significant offer that he knew wasn't enough, wiping the beer spray off of his goggles to see that his client is the irrelevant-to-the-world woman in the bed (and not her sister and brother-in-law), Frank Galvin does what he has to do, regardless of the outcome. He is her lawyer; he has no choice. Man, how I wish we all could really feel this way, just once. Pure, raw and real. God's gift of talent made manifest in the drunken remnants of one who was formerly prematurely designated a "success" and then a "failure". The Lord works in mysterious ways. James Mason is so damned perfect in his role as the big city, big firm defense attorney, comprised of equal parts talent and preparation; mentoring his troops even as he protects his client. The Verdict evidences the intangible yet palpable faith of a trial lawyer in the truth (and in a panel of ordinary citizens that he hopes will divine the truth from the facts) in spite of the law; a reminder to all that a talent for spinning the facts is inferior to society's aptitude for seeing through the b.s.; an exemplar of the power of honor and the burden of obligation. It remains one of the very best stories ever brought to film. Smell the snow evaporating off of the radiators. Listen to the pinball machine's soft old bells, now twenty five years old, racking up the score. Taste the raw eggs and beer, a warrior's breakfast, long ago abandoned in this age of legal malpractice lawsuits. Feel the joy of infatuation and the raw pain of a lie. Believe in Frank. Believe in the case. Believe in Justice. Newman and Mason deserved better than Oscars for this film. Buy the DVD and pop a big ol' bowl of pop-corn. Enjoy their performances and accept that this is as good as it gets. Bet you can't play it just once."
Three American Masters: Lumet, Newman, Mamet
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 04/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sidney Lumet. David Mamet. Paul Newman. Charlotte Rampling. Jack Warden. James Mason. Thats a lot of talent & everyone is at their best in this movie which is often referred to as a courtroom drama but really only a very small amount of this film actually takes place in court. Much more time is spent at the local bars Frank Gavin has spent his waning years drowning in. Frank says at one point, "its a long road that doesn't have any turns in it." Well the court case that Jack Warden hands him on a silver platter is one of those turns. And to Franks credit he more than rises to the occasion but not without many moments of self-doubt and self-examination. Frank also begins a love affair while he is preparing to go to trial and that love affair with Charlotte Rampling is well drawn. Both are at all time low points in their lives. She keeps up with Frank when he is drinking and has as many tales of woe as he. That is yet another attractive component to this many layered look at Frank. As the relationship develops Frank is forced to see himself and his failures through her eyes and that as much as the pending court case contributes to his reformation. Charlotte Rampling gives a wonderful performance as a woman at the end of her rope, just barely hanging on. She needs the relationship to work but has very little left in the way of emotional resources. She too is looking to rehabilitate herself and is in a unique position to understand Franks efforts. Mamet is great at tough love and the most famous scene in the movie is certainly that.
Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon is one of the most studied films by up and coming directors, and this one too has some of those masterful director signature moments in it, ie the last scene in the movie with Paul in his office after the trial and the phone ringing and ringing and Paul just sitting still in his newfound quiet. Fade out to credits."