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The Star Chamber (1983)

Michael Douglas , Hal Holbrook , Peter Hyams  |  R |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto, Sharon Gless, James Sikking
  • Directors: Peter Hyams
  • Writers: Peter Hyams, Roderick Taylor
  • Producers: Frank Yablans, Jonathan A. Zimbert, Kurt Neumann
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround), French (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: February 1, 2005
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006Z2NQI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,669 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Star Chamber" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

When crime on the street gets out of hand, a group of socially prominent men form a vigilante squad. Michael Douglas is chilling.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware the chamber May 21, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As anyone who has ever read Plato's REPUBLIC will tell you, the concept of justice is not nearly so straightforward as we would like to believe. In a perfect world, all the bad guys would go straight to the slammer and all the good guys would be set free and exonerated. We live, of course, in what is far from a perfect world.

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!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Judges, Jurors, And Executioners February 8, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Michael Douglas portrays an idealistic L.A. County superior court judge who finds himself in a cabal of judges known as THE STAR CHAMBER, in this 1983 film of the same name directed and co-written by Peter Hyams (OUTLAND; CAPRICORN ONE; 2010). His character is frustrated about letting criminals go scot-free on charges ranging from kidnapping to murder because of technicalities; even though the evidence would clearly put these thugs on ice, improper procedures by the police force Douglas to obey the letter of the law and dismiss them.
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.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A class act March 15, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Its been almost 20 years since this movie came out and it has all but been forgotten about. It is one of my all time favorites in that it stretches your thinking from the very opening. As the doctor who's little boy was murdered says to Michael Douglas's character; the judge, "you don't escape so easily", the ideas expressed in the movie cause us all to put ourselves in the shoes of the characters and wonder what would we do? Besides the above, the movie was very entertaining as well. The backround music definately built up the intrigue and Hal Holbrook played his part to a T. As Holbrook said, this project is "a class act". Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Our Own Court Of Last Resort" April 15, 2005
Format:DVD
Michael Douglas and Hal Holbrook star in 1983's "The Star Chamber", an excellent drama which has Douglas portraying Superior Court Judge "Steven R. Hardin", who, time and time again, is forced to return criminals to the streets due to legal technicalities. Eventually, he can take it no more -- and resorts to joining an exclusive nine-member organization composed of fellow judges -- The "court of last resort" (as Holbrook puts it during the film).

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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Star Chamber for Today?
I had seen Star Chamber when it first came out in 1983 and have recently been telling people about it because of certain issues in the news. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rob Schimenz
5.0 out of 5 stars It's worth the money, and your time.
Big fan of Michael Douglass didn't disappoint me in this mystery. His supporting cast was great too.
Published 1 month ago by Vera Jean Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Nail Bitter
This one will keep you on the edge of your seat!!! It's an oldie but a real goodie - like a lot of films. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sharon Sue Carter
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but problematic.idea.
Remembered seeing this in its day. Enjoyed it more then than now. United States has changed dramatically since this came out. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Patricia overton
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
I saw this movie long ago and decided it was time to watch it again and to own it. FAST shipping, great DVD
Published 4 months ago by Dr. John L. Takeuchi Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Star Chamber
Excellent movie! Amazing how so long ago they knew there was no justice in the world. Sometimes you just need to take things in your own hands and deal with it. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Nancy Chapman
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLET
EXCELLENT STORY ALSO ALE THE PLAYERS DID A EXCELLENT JOB. FILM QUALITY
WAS VERY GOOD WOULD . WAS SO REAL TO LIFE.
Published 5 months ago by Bill
5.0 out of 5 stars None better
This is an edge-of-your-seat movie........and one that I've seen many times. It's one of my favorites. I've given it as gifts and the responses are that they loved the movie.
Published 7 months ago by Cardinal
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible movie--many have not seen.
10 out of 10 rating is truly earned. This film remains a very memorable
experience for me. My subjective opinion puts it at the top. Read more
Published 7 months ago by SteveSmid
5.0 out of 5 stars A good movie from the past
I saw this movie years ago in the theater and it has stuck with me since. Now I have the dvd and watched it again. It has left the same impression as before. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Sharon Simrin
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