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Physical Evidence

3.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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(Mar 18, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews


Physical Evidence is meant to be a hard-boiled, gritty courtroom whodunit. With two sexy leads, a big-name director (Michael Crighton), and a classy score by legendary composer Henry Mancini (The Pink Panther), everything would appear to be in place. Burt Reynolds, whose career had shifted into low-gear in the late '80s, plays Joe Farley, a hard-living, hard-drinking cop with a volatile temper and plenty of enemies. When he becomes the main suspect in a high-profile murder, tyro public defendant Jenny Hudson (Theresa Russell), eager to make a name for herself, jumps to Joe's defense. Lies, red herrings, and double crosses follow as the body count rises. Jenny is in over her head and soon realizes that her life is in danger, and trouble is, she's falling hard for Joe, but can she trust him? Though the pacing is brisk and there's some good courtroom melodrama, Reynolds and Russell don't exactly ignite up the screen, and most of the scenes play like bad late-night television. Final verdict? A solid guilty pleasure. --Matt Wold

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Burt Reynolds, Theresa Russell, Ned Beatty, Kay Lenz, Ted McGinley
  • Directors: Michael Crichton
  • Writers: Bill Phillips, Steve Ransohoff
  • Producers: Don Carmody, Martin Ransohoff
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Live / Artisan
  • DVD Release Date: March 18, 2003
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000089764
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,366 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Physical Evidence" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This Rank thriller directed by Michael Crichton has a scuzzy screenplay by Bill Phillips, from a story by Phillips and Steve Ransohoff, which is half courtroom drama and half street investigation. The title is explained by the means of execution of a hood being found in the home of Burt Reynolds, a Boston cop on suspension for "unwarranted violence". In spite of the obvious setup, Reynolds is charged with the murder and Theresa Russell becomes his defence attorney. Russell is given more screentime than Reynolds, and the treatment even allows for her breathy mannerisms by making her an inexperienced and ambitious. At one point someone even tells her "I can do without the dramatics" which gets a laugh. As Russell's boyfriend, Ted McGinley benefits from the same effect, with his ineffectualness used for himbo-ism. She and Reynolds banter well, and thankfully the inevitable romance is given a light touch. The only Phillips line that passes for wit is someone referring to the "reverse Midas touch, where everything touched turns to manure", though Reynolds is around to underplay. If the divisive focus and ultimately the seriousness with which we are supposed to take the court case are questionable, Crichton pulls us along with his skill. He creates multiple scenes of messy group anger, and provides a beautifully executed climactic chase. Ned Beatty is also pleasing as the District Attorney, probably the only one who attempts the region dialect.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The other day, I was thinking about movies I've enjoyed over the years, and thought of this film starring Burt Reynolds and Theresa Russell--from the late 80s.

PHYSICAL EVIDENCE - Format: [DVD Movie] was a flick that I thought would be fun to see again. And it was.

My favorite parts were the interactions between the characters. Theresa Russell portrayed a defense attorney named Jennifer Hudson, while Burt Reynolds was Joe Paris, the cop on trial for murder.

Watching the growing attraction between these characters as they tried to solve the case (in between trial scenes) was fun, if a bit predictable.

The movie was set in Boston, so I also enjoyed the street scenes, as well as the interiors of some really gorgeous homes, like the loft where Theresa Russell's character lived with her very annoying fiance, who was materialistic and a bit of an obsessive-compulsive snob.

Lots of action, some violence, and a few thrill scenes, especially toward the end--all added up to a so-so movie that I'll probably watch again, but it certainly wasn't one of my favorites. Not like I thought it would be, since back in the eighties I obviously had different tastes.

However, I decided that it deserved three stars.
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Format: DVD
Physical Evidence is one of those films that you want to like but really should be a lot better than it actually is. Developed as a sequel to Jagged Edge for Glenn Close and Robert Loggia, it gives the impression that all involved only made it while they were waiting for something better to come along. The premise is perfectly serviceable, it's mostly technically efficient if horribly uninspired with even Henry Mancini's musacky score surprisingly pleasant, but you can't help feeling that things would have turned out better if one of the leads had turned out to be the killer (as is rumoured was originally the case). As the opening scene of his little-seen, personally disastrous Heat (1986) showed, Reynolds has all the makings of a great screen villain. As is, there are few surprises and a feeling of half-hearted filming by numbers as it builds up a head of intertia as it ambles disinterestedly towards a less than grand will-this-do? finale.

Reynolds is fine, sailing through on charisma in what is clearly a star vehicle. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Theresa Russell. An impressive and fearless actress in husband Nic Roeg's films which allow her to delve into the darker side of human nature, she's trapped in a part that requires star quality rather than depth, and she ain't got it in spades. She doesn't fluff her lines or bump into the other actors, but that's about all that can be said in favour of her astonishingly stilted and often amateurish performance that lets the film down badly. Aside from Ned Beatty's prosecutor the supporting cast add only a slightly surreal presence in a Boston where everyone seems to have a badly disguised Canadian accent and the streets bear a startling resemblance to Toronto and Montreal.
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Format: DVD
I'm reviewing the video (Not The DVD) which I taped from HBO or Showtime back in the 1990s. As I've mentioned in the above caption, this movie was listed as One & A Half Stars by Leonard Maltin, who said (Correctly) that Theresa Russel was miscast in her role. Glenn Close (Jagged Edge) and Rebecca De Mornay (Guilty As Sin) had performances that were light years ahead of Theresa Russels! That is why the movie fell flat-- that and tepid direction from Crichton. He clearly got little from his stars. Aside from Reynolds and Beatty, few of the actors held their own in this production. Speaking of production, couldn't they (Producers) have chipped in more money so the film could have been shot completely on location in Boston instead of Toronto standing in for that tea party city?

It's a shame that this movie did not come together. It had all the marks of a solid thriller, yet never reaches its mark. I recommend it only for those who (Like Me) love Burt Reynolds and always desire a thriller with stars.

In short, if you can overcome Russell's bad acting and Crichton's lackluster direction (He Got Nothing From His Stars), you might be able to barely stand this below-average movie.

A. Nathaniel Wallace, Jr.
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