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A FILM FAN’S FAVORITES

Five classics avoid claustrophobic courtroom scenes, providing entertainment and inspiration for the lawyer inside each of us.

1. Twelve Angry Men (1957) My #1 courtroom film doesn’t even have a courtroom scene!  I’m not perfect, but this movie may be. Sydney Lumet’s directorial debut (script by Reginald Rose) unfolds entirely in the jury room of an open and shut murder trial. Henry Fonda is the first to question the “obvious†verdict, followed, one at a time, by the rest of the stellar dozen. Was jury duty ever like this?

2. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) Powerful, provocative, epic look at the 1948 Nazi war crimes trials, assigning blame for World War II atrocities. Stanley Kramer directed Abby Mann’s Oscar-winning script, with one of the greatest casts ever – Spencer Tracy (Best Actor nominee), Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Montgomery Clift (Supporting Actor nominee), Maximillian Schell (Best Actor winner), Judy Garland (Supporting Actress nominee), Marlene Dietrich and even William Shatner.

3. A Few Good Men (1992) Rob Reiner directed Aaron Sorkin’s adaption of his award-winning play. Tom Cruise is excellent as the court martial defense attorney challenging Supporting Actor nominee Jack Nicholson, plus strong performances by Demi Moore, Keifer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon. “You want the truth?†This is really a good movie.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his understated portrayal of Atticus Finch, the southern lawyer who, with quiet dignity, firmly stands up to rural bigotry.Told from a child’s perspective, this poignant movie introduced Robert Duvall.

5. Inherit the Wind (1960) Stanley Kramer’s view of the 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial,†when Tennessee prosecuted Darwin’s science. Spencer Tracy was a Best Actor nominee as a fictional version of Clarence Darrow, facing Frederick March, as the equivalent of William Jennings Bryan.

Disagree? Send your top five to Davidmeister@westsidetoday.com

Palisadian David Meister is a life-long movie-goer. He was a top executive at HBO, launched Cinemax, was president of Time-Life Films and later created The Sundance Channel for Robert Redford.

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