(out of 5)
Watching one man go against conspiratorial corruption hasn’t been this intense since Alfred Hitchcock sent a crop duster after Cary Grant. In this case it’s a superb Paul Newman as an alcoholic over-the-hill attorney who gets one last chance to make a comeback in the big courtroom (this was during the days before John Grisham’s novels, so this type of character wasn’t quite the stereotype it is today). The case he gets to try is one involving a malpractice suit against two well-respected doctors whose negligent anesthesiology on a woman in labour has sent her into a lifelong coma. The hospital offers Newman a settlement, but he feels he owes it to the girl not to sell out but to take the case to trial. James Mason plays the corporate lawyer who pulls out all the stops to make sure he wins; but is he a match for human truth? Charlotte Rampling is strong but wasted as the love interest with her own little secret (though it’s no big surprise; just look at how high she’s billed in the credits and you’ll know what the secret is).
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Cinematography by Andrzej Bartkowiak
Music by Johnny Mandel
Production Design by Edward Pisoni
Costume Design by Anna Hill Johnstone
Film Editing by Peter C. Frank