The Verdict (Lumet, 1982)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Lino
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
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#1 Post by Lino » Sun Jul 09, 2006 12:41 pm

Caught this one on TV today and it made for a perfectly wonderful mattinee watching. Been wanting to see it for ages as it's one of the few Lumets on my list that kept eluding me even though I've picked the DVD from the racks quite a few times in the past. No excuse now.

Apart from the overall brilliance of the performances, the quality of the storytelling and the still relevant importance of the subject matter (medical negligence) what struck me the most on this first viewing was the cinematography -- never flashy, quite subdued most of the time, but extremely effective in the setting of mood and even helpful in a way, as it let the actors breathe and behave as fluidly as possible.

It was not the first time Andrzej Bartkowiak had worked with Lumet and it would not be the last, so apparently they understood each other very well. And it shows.

stroszeck
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#2 Post by stroszeck » Sun Jul 09, 2006 6:35 pm

Yeah, I actually think that Clint Eastwood might've screened or "borrowed" from this one in terms of cinematography and ambiance for MILLION DOLLAR BABY. (Although MDB had more of a noirish tone to it).

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hearthesilence
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#3 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:35 pm

Rosenbaum gave this a mixed review:
Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote:Sidney Lumet's direction, like David Mamet's patchy script (which adapts a Barry Reed novel), may not be quite good enough to justify the Rembrandt-like cinematography of Edward Pisoni and the brooding mood of self-importance, but it's good direction nonetheless; and there are plenty of supporting performances--by James Mason, Jack Warden, Milo O'Shea, Charlotte Rampling, and Lindsay Crouse, among others--to keep one distracted from Newman's dogged Oscar-pandering.
To be fair, the script did seem a bit patchy - maybe it was the novel, but there were moments that seemed a bit sanctimonious, and others that really strained. Having said that, I'm surprised he dismissed Newman's performance as Oscar-pandering. I liked his performance quite a bit, even though there may be a moment or two where it seems a bit much (it's been awhile, but I think after he makes his closing argument, Newman slumps back in his seat in a fairly mannered, melodramatic way, hanging his head and clutching his brow at the same time...you know, like he was really, REALLY dejected).

Some lawyers have a problem with Newman breaking into a mailbox, which is a felony, I think - the usual "a real (fill in the blank) would NEVER do that," but considering how desperate Newman's character was, it makes sense, doesn't it?

My memory's hazy, I only saw this on VHS about 10 years ago, but I'll have to check it out again. Courtroom dramas are notoriously prosaic, visually speaking - at best, they may adopt a film noir look, nothing too special - but I do recall The Verdict looking pretty good.

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Lino
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#4 Post by Lino » Mon Jul 10, 2006 4:09 am

Rosenbaum got the name of the cinematographer wrong. Edward Pisoni is the Production Designer.

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HerrSchreck
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#5 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Jul 10, 2006 5:03 am

I remember seeing this w my mom inna cinema as a kid & loving it. Don't think I've seen it since then, though it's certainly worth a revisit.

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Matango
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#6 Post by Matango » Mon Jul 10, 2006 6:43 am

This is the first movie I ever saw in a shop on VHS...must have been 1983 or 84...and it was selling for 65 pounds sterling :shock:

Good thing I waited.

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Andre Jurieu
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#7 Post by Andre Jurieu » Mon Jul 10, 2006 2:56 pm

hearthesilence wrote:Rosenbaum gave this a mixed review:
Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote: ...like David Mamet's patchy script (which adapts a Barry Reed novel)...
To be fair, the script did seem a bit patchy - maybe it was the novel, but there were moments that seemed a bit sanctimonious, and others that really strained...
Interestingly, I had a film prof who used the script for The Verdict as his example of how to adapt a novel effectively. I actually thought Mamet did a fairly decent job here, but that may be severely influenced by the fact that we spent three classes going through 5 or 6 scenes in detail.

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