The Star Chamber
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There are two extremes to the equation. On the one hand, a police state where you're guilty until proven innocent and deprived of rights that could prove that you are, in fact, guiltless.
On the other hand is a legal system that is so complex that there are thousands of loopholes every step of the way by which clever lawyers may get their client(s) off on a technicality - regardless of how absurd the technicality is.
The present movie asks an intersting question: what if a group of judges got together to do something about the latter situation and correct in-justice? What if, being the incarnation of the "law," they dispensed justice in a manner that was more beneficial to society (or so they hoped)?
This premise leads them into the Star Chamber where they review cases at their leisure. Of course, the obvious question arises: what if they mis-fire? To complicate matters, what if the people they want to whack are guilty of other egregious crimes, but innocent of the crime they've been accused?
Herein lies the premise of THE STAR CHAMBER. It's too bad I waited until just recently to see this movie as I'm a fan of Michael Douglas and Hal Holbrook. But, it was certainly worth the wait. I'll see YOU in court!
But he gets a look into this Star Chamber cabal from his mentor (Hal Holbrook, good as ever), where he and seven other judges, plus Douglas now, pass judgment on and later find and execute the criminals. In essence, this Star Chamber consists of judges so fed up with the System that they resort to vigilantism. Douglas, however, doesn't see this particular cabal as the answer, and he has to struggle with this dichotomy.
In a twisted sort of way, this seems like the 1973 Dirty Harry film MAGNUM FORCE as reimagined by John Grisham (though this was years before Grisham was ever widely known). But I think the film, though imperfect in places, makes it clear that a private cabal of judges deciding on the violent punishment of criminals who slip through on technicalities is no better (and realistically far worse) than a flawed prosecution in a real court of law. We may think the justice system is slanted so heavily in favor of the criminals, but that's only because that one day, through some weird twists of fate, we too may find ourselves in the position of the criminals.
Douglas and Holbrook are well-matched here, and Hyams' direction, aided by his co-screenwriter Roderick Taylor, brings out some good points in a somewhat flawed but otherwise well-done courtroom drama that is in need of a revival.
Hardin's internal struggle in dealing with his newly-acquired (and ultra-secretive) "power" is dealt with nicely in the film, with Michael Douglas giving an outstanding performance in this reviewer's opinion.
In fact, everyone in this cast is letter-perfect in their parts here. From Douglas (who was 38 years old when he made this movie) .... to Holbrook .... to Sharon Gless (who plays Michael's wife) .... to Yaphet Kotto (who gives a very good and restrained performance as a police detective).
And the actors that the filmmakers got to play the killers and assorted crooks in this movie will give you the willies by just glancing at them. The two main bad guys in the film are played by Don Calfa and Joe Regalbuto, and both are wholly convincing as all get out, especially Calfa as "Lawrence Monk". This guy's "look" just screams "shady character". He'll give you the creeps right from the get-go. Great casting, IMO.
I also very much like the way members of the police are portrayed in "The Star Chamber". They seem like "real" cops to me in this picture; not phony in any manner -- another first-rate job of casting and characterization.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Used this movie for a class I am instructing, and find it to be a thought provoking movie about the criminal justice system. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mtn_Retreat
I liked this movie, despite what other people say, I guess that's because I watch the movie without predjudice. Meaning I don't try to compare it with another movie. Read morePublished 8 months ago by combat addict
Pretty good movie! Must add to your collection if you're into Michael Douglas.Published 8 months ago by Mark
The film has dated well despite having been made in the early 1980s. Michael Douglas well-cast and the issues were well-explored but I don't think the ending was satisfactory as a... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Charlotte Nicholls
Great movie, but I don't know where they got the photo cover as he never had a Beretta in the movie ! Anyway movie was priced fair and arrived on time. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Tom Jr
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