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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 59:51)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Croatian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • Featurette
  • Photo gallery

The Verdict

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 124 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Paul Newman is Frank Galvin, a down and out alcoholic lawyer who has resorted to becoming an ambulance chaser. His good friend Mickey (Jack Warden) hands him an easy case in an attempt to get him back on his feet. The case is to do with a woman that was admitted to a Catholic hospital to give birth to her third child. During the procedure she was given an incorrect dose of anaesthetic, leaving her in a coma and creating a possible case of malpractice. Galvin has the intention to settle the case before going to trial, allowing the victim to be placed in care and her sister to go back to normality, as well as allowing him to rebuild his life. However, upon seeing the victim lying in hospital, Galvin decides there is a case to answer and that accepting the large monetary offer would not only be unethical and the easy way out, it would also be the wrong thing to do.

Taking on the powerful hospital, fully backed by the Catholic Church is the least of his worries, as he also has to face a team of lawyers from the top law firm in Boston, lead by Ed Concannon (James Mason). Concannon will use every tactic within his means to undermine Galvin, sparing no expense and exploring every avenue he can. Galvin on the other hand has the limited resources of his friend Mickey and his new love interest, Laura (Charlotte Rampling). With his witnesses causing more damage than good and everything that can go wrong doing just that, as well as the fact that the judge is quite obviously biased against him, Galvin faces the fight of his life.

"I’m goin’ up there, I’m gonna try it, and let the jury decide!"

Paul Newman is quite outstanding in this role. As an actor he shows great vulnerability and skill and fully deserved his Oscar nomination. This is classed by so many as a court room drama, but it is so much more than that. The court room does play a large part in this film, but the build up to that and the way the characters are developed is so much more important. Newman shows great ability in portraying this character, showing all his weaknesses and hidden strength.

The rest of the cast are very well suited to their roles, but the stand out performer is James Mason. Playing the role of the opposing lawyer Concannon, he could quite easily have come across as the most hated man in the film, but he portrays his character in a way that the viewer comes away respecting him. One other point of interest is that sitting in the court room during the dramatic closing speech is a young Bruce Willis.

Director Sidney Lumet does a great job with this film. His previous films include Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men and his obvious talent comes across here. The way he shows facial expressions of certain characters rather than the character that is actually speaking, capturing their reaction, is great direction.

There are a few disappointments with this film however. At times it does become a little too melodramatic, losing a little of its credibility, but this only occurs on a few occasions. The other plot line that seemed a bit of a waste of time was the love interest of Laura. Although Charlotte Rampling is very good in her role, the romance between her and Galvin seems only a token effort. This romance could have been given much more depth or even ignored completely and the film would not have suffered.

Overall this film is very dated. Newman is superb as usual and pretty much carries the film, but this is still worth seeing. It offers enough to keep most viewers interested for its two hour running time and was also nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, so it can’t be all bad. Although not just a court room drama, this dialogue driven film should satisfy most.

  Video
Contract

Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced, this film does look very dated. Picture is sharp for the most part, but there are many instances of film artefacts in the way of white flecks and grain is noticeable on many occasions. The colours are generally very good and picture is overall very solid, but these instances of artefacts and grain are very noticeable when they occur. Edge enhancement is also very noticeable, as are many cases of aliasing.

Overall sharpness and detail are very good and there is no problem with bleeding or low-level noise. There is a multitude of subtitles to choose from and these are extremely accurate to the dialogue. There is a layer change at 59:51, which is well placed and not too intrusive.

  Audio
Contract

Audio supplied is the single choice of English Dolby Digital 2.0 and it's acceptable. Dialogue is clear at all times and kept primarily on the centre speaker in a Prologic setup. The surrounds get little use, but with a film of this nature there isn’t any great need for them. The supporting music score is good, but for the most part not noticeable. The subwoofer is silent throughout but is not really needed. Overall the audio is sufficient while being nothing spectacular.

  Extras
Contract

There are a few extras with this release, but nothing too amazing.

Commentary:
Stated as being a commentary by director Sidney Lumet and Paul Newman, this primarily features Lumet. The comments from Newman are few and far between, limited to a few remarks towards the end of the film. The commentary is interesting, but is filled with long pauses and doesn't offer too much in the way of revealing information.

Featurette:
Running for 8:44, this feature is quite interesting, but is not much more than an advertisement for the main feature. Including a brief interview with Newman, this also contains many clips from the film and even states its release of 1982 in the closing credits. Perhaps this featurette could have been made more recently to include more up to date information.

Theatrical Trailer:
Running for 2:14, this is a nice extra for fans, but it's full of film artefacts and background hiss.

Behind The Scenes Gallery:
Eight pictures taken behind the scenes during the shooting of this film. It is great to have this extra, but surely there are more pictures in existence?

  Overall  
Contract

Overall this film is definitely worthy of a look. The story is very good and deserving of its Oscar nomination, but the film is worth viewing just for the performance of Newman. Taking on a role of this nature did nothing but emphasise the ability of this superb actor. The only downsides to this film are the poor transfer and the fact that it is a little dated. Apart from that, it is a film worth viewing for those that have never seen it and a film that Newman fans should add to their collection without hesitation.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1696
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      And I quote...
    "A masterful performance by Newman in yet another Oscar nominated role. "
    - Adrian Turvey
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai DV-P2000
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-29S55AT 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Akai AM-SS1500
    • Speakers:
          Akai
    • Centre Speaker:
          Akai
    • Surrounds:
          Akai
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
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