AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

2/15/08

The Verdict

The Verdict 1982
Sidney Lumet

Plot:
Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) is a down-on-his luck lawyer, reduced to drinking and ambulance chasing. Former associate Mickey Morrissey reminds him of his obligations in a medical malpractice suit that he himself served to Galvin on a silver platter: all parties willing to settle out of court. Blundering his way through the preliminaries,
Frank Galvin decides the case should go to court: to punish the guilty, to get a decent settlement for his clients, and to restore his standing as a lawyer. Written by Murray Chapman {muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au}


Every so often it is good to see a film from the early 1980;s when the director still honors the locale of the characters as he tells a story with a panoramic lens that goes well beyond the visage of the character, the sound of each character’s voice.

Sidney Lumet’s work, the master film maker of old, can be seen again in this 1982 film The Verdict.

It isn’t that Paul Newman’s portrayal of Frank Galvin isn’t worth the close ups afforded actors today. On the contrary, it is Paul Newman’s riveting performance that enabled me to watch the film without shrinking from yet another view of Newman’s face without benefit of his upper torso or a view of the surroundings in which his words resonated.
And the use of the camera at the end of the film where the actor emerged from the panoramic view of the courtroom scene of many actors, is the essence of good, excellent film making. an art sorely missing today.

Lidsay Crouse would not have been such an emotionally charge contributor to the plot had the camera focused just on her. It is the juxtaposing of James Mason with the image of Lidsay Cruouse, , the woman of conscience that drives home the point that what is legal is not always Just.

The women in this film have more than a stereotypical role. They are the pivotal characters who drive the hidden agenda that Sidney Lumet insists on presenting in his theatrically perfect display of simulated real life. Women , particularly in the 1980s were not up front and out there in the professional world but they were very much the force behind the scenes, the ones to drive history to get us where we are today.

This vital role of woman is so well, so palpably portrayed in Lindsay Crouse’s performance and in that of Laura Fischer.

James Mason is of course, suburb.

And I never got tired of watching, listening to my idol, Paul Newman.


Do see this film. Go to the Film Forum on Houston Street and enjoy yet again a film from the l980s, a film that says we are living in a world that is greater than the sight of a single face filling up ever larger cinema screens.


See The Verdict and feel good, reassured that films are something other than a bunch of talking heads.


Linda Z
WBAI women’s Collective

The Verdict: currently playing at the Film Forum, Houston Street, New York city

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