14 Responses to Alternate Oscars

  • Don, good post. But fine films didn’t end in 1939, as Klavan suggests. I just saw David Lean’s “Great Expectations,” made in 1949. Wish you would post the clip near the end between Pip and his benefactor on his deathbed. Moved me to tears.

    Others that would make my top 10 list: “Il Postino,” “Amadeus,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Bridge on the River Kwai,” “The Mayor of Casterbridge” (BBC), “12 Angry Men,” and “The Apartment.” Scarcely a sex scene or profanity in any of them, except for an imagined vulgarity by the Mozart character.

    My wife and I suffered through the execrable Black Swan and nearly walked out. It was disgustingly Hollywood. I haven’t watched the Oscars in full since Johnny Carson hosted. Whatever happened to the Golden Age that included the likes of Spencer Tracy, Bogart, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Vivien Leigh, etc., to be replaced by James Franco in drag and a bunch of talentless, classless poseurs. It was left to old Kirk Douglas, creaky and half-gone, to save tradition, only to have the Oscar-winning supporting actress to drop an f-bomb at the end of his presentation.

    That sums up Hollywood’s middle finger to the better America many of us remember.

    By the way, at your suggestion, I have ordered El Cid from the library and note that Angel on My Shoulder is scheduled to be shown soon on Turner Classics, along with Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1940’s version).

  • Joe, I think fine films are still being made today. I greatly enjoyed The Incredibles for example and I think the latest Star Trek film had its moments. The Lord of the Rings trilogy fascinated me. Kenneth Branaugh’s Henry V is one for the ages. My list could go on with many other films. I watch quite a few films with my family, and not just those from the Golden Era. It is simply that the abysmally poor category has increased dramatically since the Sixties. We have a perfect storm of dropping educational standards, the ability of film directors to conceal poor films with sex, violence and explosions and actors and actresses who specialize in mumbling to produce some mind boggingly bad drek. The biggest problem I think is that so much in the way of films seems to be produced on autopilot with little to no original thought behind them. As T.S. Elliot noted we live in a time of hollow men with hollow chests and hollower heads.

  • K, he won me over by filling half of the screen with Gibbs. (Yes, I’m that easy to manipulate.)

  • Donald-
    looking at your list reminds me of a conversation that’s been going around (here and here for example) about supposedly “adult” fare.

    The Incredibles is probably the best original movie released in my adult life (a category that is a bit more limited than it may seem, living in the Era Of Remakes); Lord of the Rings, even though it (naturally) suffers from not being six movies and the limited imagination of some of the actors, was outstanding.

    I can’t watch the newest star trek, for reasons starting with “even a military as cruddy as Picard’s StarFleet does not work like that” and including a deep disgust for “updates” by and large.

    Thinking of movies I love, they’re almost all “childish” or “geeky”– things that reject the supposedly adult culture. The Last Unicorn, Princess Bride, Willow, the real Star Wars movies, Riki Tiki Tavi… good grief, my daughter’s Magical Meow Meow Taruto anime has more dealings with mature themes, like death, honor, loyalty, bravery, truth and unrequited love than most “adult” movies. (Anyone who can watch episode 3, “Long, Long Ago,” without crying is either heartless or very tough.)

    Hollywood isn’t just limited by their politics– they’re limited by their belief that hope, optimism and joy are childish.

  • heh

    Last time I cared about the BS/oscars was the year “Patton” was nominated.

    Some of you weren’t allowed to be born . . .

    No wait! That was before Roe v. Wade!

  • We live in odd times Foxfier when the best “adult” films are often kid flicks. In regard to the Trek movie I had similar criticisms which I posted in my review that no military in the world acts the way Star Fleet does in that movie. However, I also pointed out that the original Star Trek was about as silly. (Oh yes, it is a good idea to send the Captain and the ship’s senior officers on an away mission that should be commanded by Ensign Expendable. Then we have the female personnel running around the ship dressed in miniskirts and go-go boots. Kirk has a “flexible” attitude towards orders and yet never seems to suffer any consequences. Paperwork for command officers has apparently vanished in the 23rd Century. The list could go on and on!)

  • Have any of you seen “The King’s Speech?” I highly recommend it (there is a brief scene which contains bad language – the King did not stutter when he cursed. Unfortunately, I hear as bad or worse simply walking down the street behind a bunch of teenagers.)

    No surprise ending, but it nonetheless moved and entertained me. The film celebrates responsibility and duty (the sometimes romanticized Duke of Windsor is portrayed -accurately – as a selfish and nasty bounder) and also the wisdom gained by experience vs. merely having a degree. At a time when our own elites seem allergic to common sense and have boundless scorn for those who did not attend the right schools, that message hits the mark.

  • I am looking forward to seeing that film Donna. I have always had a fondness for George VI. He was a good family man and he and his family showed a fair amount of courage by staying in London during the blitz and sharing the dangers of their people. I also liked the way he talked Churchill out of landing with the British troops on D-Day by telling him that if Churchill was doing this, he as King had to be there also. The English have had far worse kings than the Queen’s father.

    Agreed as to the Duke of Windsor, a selfish grown brat of marginal intelligence, less ability and more than a little sympathetic to the Nazis prior to the War. The British dodged a bullet when he gave up the throne to marry the golddigger he lusted after.

  • And let’s not forget the King’s wife. When I was in England many years ago, I was struck by the affection and respect that the Brits, even young, trying-hard-to-be-hip London males, had for the “Queen Mum.” Everyone, even those not enamored of the institution of the monarchy, seemed to adore her, as though she was the kindly National Grandmother. When I saw “The King’s Speech,” I better understood the reason for their love.

  • I know very little about the Royal Family, other than that my grandmother– who hated the English with a burning passion– liked the current queen; looking at the lady, I’m not surprised to hear folks say her folks were good people.

  • Donna, et al, just returned from seeing The King’s Speech and found it wonderfully crafted and moving and, notwithstanding Christopher Hitchens’ meanspirited (since when is he otherwise?) essays finding fault with the portrayal of Churchill, heartily recommend this film.

  • I’m looking forward to seeing it when it comes out on blueray Joe. I have always been a sucker for English historical films.

  • Don, this is a movie that’s meant to be seen on the big screen. Don’t wait, go see it in a theater. You will be glad you did. Guaranteed.

Top Ten Lawyer Movies

Friday, July 9, AD 2010

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, has asked for thoughts about movies featuring attorneys.  Faithful readers of this blog know that I have no hesitation about highlighting the less attractive aspects of my profession, for example here and here.  However, I would be less than candid if I did not admit that there are rather amusing or exciting aspects to being an attorney, and many of those occur in court.   Film reflects this, although it does not reflect the majority of an attorney’s work which is often congealed tedium.

10.  My Cousin Vinnie (1992)-One of the funniest movies I have ever seen, and hands down the funniest movie about a trial.  Joe Pesci is unforgettable as a fledgling litigator, a true diamond in the rough.  The late Fred Gwynne as the strict judge is very true to life.  (I suspect all attorneys who appear in courts encounter a judge as portrayed in the film sooner or later.)

9.     The Verdict (1982)-Paul Newman is unbelievably good as a burned out alcoholic attorney who gives everything he has to win a personal injury case. 

8.      A Few Good Men (1992)-The court martial is fairly unrealistic, but no list of films about attorneys would be complete without the cross-examination featured in the above video clip.

7.      Witness for the Prosecution (1957)-Charles Laughton steals every scene he is in as an aging barrister at the top of his game.  Besides, I really appreciate the comments about the British National Health Care system in the video clip!

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18 Responses to Top Ten Lawyer Movies

  • In reference to My Cousin Vinny.

    When you refer to Mr. Gwynne as a “strict” judge, are you implying that wearing a clown suit is appropriate when representing clients in a court of law?

    I enjoyed the movie very much, but he wasn’t strict at all. It’s just proper court courtesy to wear something that doesn’t resemble a leisure suit from the 1970s.

    Unless of course in certain parts of Illinois that is deemed as “normal”.


  • Most judges Tito if they need to reprimand an attorney over such issues as proper attire will do so back in chambers. Other judges take delight in humiliating counsel in open court over relatively petty matters. This has not happened to me, I assume the judges that I appear in front of gave me up as a lost cause on minor matters long ago, but I have seen it done to other attorneys. It is much more humorous on screen than in real life. Of course an experienced attorney quickly learns that what may be done in Judge A’s courtroom may not be done in Judge B’s courtroom. I recall one Judge who had a mania about counsel requesting permission to approach him while he was on the bench. He hated this custom as he thought it wasted time. (I agree with him.) Some judges require this, so naturally this confused counsel unfamiliar with him. One day an attorney was held in contempt of court because she, out of force of habit, after being cautioned, requested leave to approach. Part of being a good trial attorney is learning all the quirks of the judges you appear before. This is why local counsel often have a strong home court advantage over counsel unfamiliar with the judge hearing the case.

  • Oh, and I have seen attorneys wear far worse in open court than the Pesci character, especially some female attorneys, who are usually give more leeway on courtroom attire than their male counterparts.

  • I’ve heard some female attorneys wearing a “closing argument” miniskirt.

    Memories of grad school, ahhhhh.

  • Some female attorneys have been admonished for dressing in too provocative a manner in court. I have never witnessed that. What I have seen are female attorneys who appear in court dressed much more casually than the court secretaries and stenographers. To be fair, I’ve also seen male attorneys in jeans and golfing shirts. The judges in my county issued an order a few years ago requiring a suit and tie. No one has attempted to apply it to the distaff side of the bar yet. One of the judges signing off on the order is female, and if I catch her in the right mood some day I’ll mention that!

  • Almost all of these scenes you posted involve trials. I’m a corporate lawyer not a litigator, and I focus on mutual funds and hedge funds. I hate litigation because I learned early on that judges are the most arrogant bastards on the planet and that all your brains and wit does not make a bit of difference to a judge who wants the case to have a certain outcome. Juries can be swayed, maybe, but a judge can’t.

    Granted, there’s no glory sitting in an office on the 43rd floor of my building at night reviewing a mutual fund document that no one in the world is going to actually read. But it pays the bills. And it’s better than supplicating to an arrogant judge who doesn’t deserve the least bit of real respect.

  • “And it’s better than supplicating to an arrogant judge who doesn’t deserve the least bit of real respect.”

    Come on Sydney, tell us what you really think of judges! 🙂 Judges come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen judges with bad cases of black robitis, who confuse themselves with God. I’ve also encountered judges who realize they are very fallible and perform their duties in an even-handed manner. Judges are humans like the rest of us, and we all know how cross-grained and onery many humans can be!

  • Here are some that should at least be honorable mentions (although I’d put them in the Top 10):

    “John Adams” (HBO)

    “Miracle on 34th Street” (the original, with Edmund Gwynn, John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, and Natalie Wood)

  • You’re right, they’re humans. But I lost all respect for the “judicial system” when that judge murdered Terri Schindler. Judges are just government bureaucrats and as a whole are institutionally incapable of humility. They’re also a great threat to freedom.

    I favor, as a policy matter, random and routine impeachment of judges. If they knew they’d be out of power at the slightest moment, they’d be less prone to arrogance.

  • “They’re also a great threat to freedom.”

    Rather like government in general, although that is not a good argument for no government. Judges provide an essential function to any society. The problem we have is that the legislature, the executive and the people have allowed courts to arrogate to themselves power well beyond what is healthy in a free society. The remedies are obvious. Only the will is lacking.

  • How about the Top Ten Accountant movies?

    I’m selective. Don’t have time left to see movies I don’t care for. Only movie to see re: lawyers: “A Man for All Seasons.”

    St. Thomas More, pray for us.

    Imagine a world with no accountants . . .

  • Top Ten Accountant Movies? Not a chance, and here is the reason why:

  • Great list, based on those I’ve seen. I’ll have to catch the ones I haven’t.

  • What about Al Pacino’s “I’m out of order? You’re out of order! This whole court is out of order!” I can’t even remember the movie lol. I just remember that scene 🙂

  • Thanks, Mac.

    I feel much better.

    St. Thomas More, pray for us.

  • Al Pacino proving yet again that overacting is not a felony offense, but should be:

  • Although it isn’t a movie, we can’t leave out the “Chewbacca Defense” episode of “South Park”, featuring the actual voice of OJ Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran:

    (Warning: some vulgar language)


  • Too Funny Don! Ans Elaine – although most of what South Park does is vile – they are very creative and funny sometimes… That was histerical 🙂