A washed-up, ambulance-chasing attorney gets a chance at redemption when his friend tosses him an open-and-shut medical malpractice case. But instead of accepting an easy cash settlement, he takes the powerful defendant to court.
The movie is a little slow paced and does not have any background score for most of its running time which adds to the feeling of slowness. The Rainmaker is quite similar to this in that both movies have the leading characters as ambulance chasers and in both there is an associate who helps the lead character and both are related to medical cases.
The scene where Frank takes Polaroid pictures of Deborah Ann Kaye was the best scene of the movie. Read some IMDB threads after watching the movie and someone has explained the scene so brilliantly.
“The drama of that scene is an extension of the Polaroid technology; once you took the shot, and the photograph emerged from the film cartridge, it was a ghostly pale gray, and you had to wait for the chemicals to dry for the image to emerge (this only took 30-60 seconds, as I recall). As the images of Deborah Ann Kaye come into focus when the chemicals dry, the photographs become a proxy for Frank Galvin “seeing” her, really seeing her, and her condition, for the first time, and I think it is at that moment that Galvin’s conscience returns, and he changes back from “ambulance chaser” to dedicated attorney. As the pictures “develop”, so does Galvin’s conscience.”
For almost the entire movie nothing goes right for Frank. This makes the movie seem very real. Getting the testimony of one of the witness completely off the records was a bit too much as I think that’s what the entire movie and verdict is based on. Without that testimony the ending is kind of unexpected.
Paul Newman was excellent as the alcoholic attorney Frank Galvin who suddenly decides to so something out of conscience. He deserved the Best Actor Oscar nomination that he got. Charlotte Rampling was very good as Laura. Jack Warden was good as his associate. James Mason was very good as the rival attorney and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Screenplay by David Mamet is good and direction by Sidney Lumet is very good. The movie was nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Verdict is a very good movie and is recommended especially for fans of courtroom dramas.
P.S. This review was actually a comment I made in the Movies You Watched This Month thread back in 2015. IMDB threads that I refer above have since been removed from IMDB.