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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Verdict [Blu-ray]
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124 of 126 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
During the first 25 years of his career, Paul Newman played characters who were confident and self-assured. Being a great actor, Newman was always able to infuse his characters with frailties and vulnerabilities that made them well-rounded and three dimensional. From Rocky Graziano to Cool Hand Luke to Doug Roberts (The Towering Inferno), Newman played self-confident characters who were strong and took charge of a situation. Perhaps this lack of frailty is the reason why Newman was able to play much younger characters well into his 50's (in 1981's Absence of Malice, the audience fully accepted that the then 56 year old Newman could be romantically involved with the then 35 year old Sally Field).

In The Verdict, however, Newman is almost shocking in his hesitancy and self doubt. As attorney Frank Galvin, life has beaten him down so much, he seems like a man far older than his years who is afraid to do anything for fear that tragedy and bad luck will once again crush him. For the first time, Newman seems more like a victim than a survivor -- stammering, hesitant, weak, alcoholic and defeated. Even his courtroom summation at the end of the film is halting and hesitant. In a film full of fine actors (James Mason, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, Milo O'Shea, Lindsay Crouse, etc.), Newman still stands out. It's an unbelievably great performance and a great companion piece to The Hustler -- "Fast Eddie" Felson after life has chewed him up and spit him out.

Unfortunately, Paul Newman, once again, did not win the Oscar for Best Actor -- Ben Kingsley won for Ghandi. Unlike with The Hustler, however, Newman wasn't really robbed, but was actually the victim of bad luck. Kingsley was born to play Ghandi and gave the performance of his life. In most other years, Newman probably would have run away with the Oscar. In 1982, however, he had the bad luck to be up against an actor who literally became one of the most revered and admired men in history. While no one can say that Kingsley didn't deserve the honor, it is still a shame that Paul Newman did not win an Oscar for his flawed, weak and defeated Frank Galvin.
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85 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
THE VERDICT may date back to 1982, but few courtroom films since then can come close to matching the powerful production in this near perfect film written by David Mamet and directed with tension, grit, and tenderness by Sidney Lumet. Paul Newman's performance as the alcoholic has-been lawyer called upon to try a case of medical malpractice is one of the finest acting performances in history. He is more than ably abetted by his sidekick Jack Warden. The lawyer for the defense is the haughty and evil James Mason and the real surprise in the cast is Milo O'Shea in a terrifyingly real role of a smarmy Judge. Charlotte Rampling, still one of today's finest actresses, plays the understated love interest. Minor roles become major when they are in the hands of such gifted actors as Lindsay Crouse and Julia Bravasso. But one unsung hero of this fine film is the cinematographer who manages to make every shot appear like a Renaissance painting, so sensitive is he to light and shadow and frame composition.
THE VERDICT is a powerful story of the underdog's struggle for truth in the judicial system and as such is a reminder of how the Law, when stripped to its essentials, is there to protect us. There is no pat ending, only a feeling of breathlessness as all of the details of the story are left to our imagination - well, almost. A strikingly powerful, meaningful, brilliantly executed film.
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62 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
In a career of unforgettable portrayals, "The Verdict" stands as Paul Newman's pinnacle; as a shattered idealistic lawyer, on an alcoholic road to self-destruction, finding a chance at redemption, he is absolutely perfect. With respect to Ben Kingsley, Newman SHOULD have won the 'Best Actor' Oscar in 1982!

Directed by Sidney Lumet, from a remarkably candid screenplay by David Mamet, this is a film that never makes a wrong step. Newman's 'Frank Galvin' is not heroic, or even likable, in the film's opening scenes, but he finds, in a simple malpractice suit, an injustice so blatant that he sees an opportunity to redeem himself...but he'll have to defeat a rich, duplicitous law firm (headed by legendary James Mason), argue before an indifferent judge (Milo O'Shea), and, worst of all, face betrayal from within his tiny circle of friends, if he has any hope of rising out of his personal 'hell'.

With a superb cast, including the remarkable Jack Warden as his ex-mentor/best friend, and Charlotte Rampling, as the woman he trusts far too much, "The Verdict" is raw, powerful, and occasionally disturbing, but never dull!

This new two-disc edition is certainly THE version to own, with commentary by Newman and Lumet, and an entire disc of extras, including Lumet and Newman's personal recollections, and several 'Making of' documentaries, from 1982, and today. You'll never find a more complete presentation of a truly extraordinary film!

There are few films that I can watch, again and again, and never grow tired of..."The Verdict" is one. Bravo to Newman, Lumet, Mamet, and everyone involved in creating this classic!
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2002
Format: DVD
Years before I turned in my smelter rake and beer league softball glove for law school, I saw this movie which, even more than "Perry Mason" or "To Kill A Mockingbird", convinced me that lawyering remained an honorable profession. Frank Galvin is a drunk who rages his way through his office and his life. But Newman's character has his heart, if not his feet, in the right place. This movie is what lawyering is all about. Caring for someone who couldn't take care of herself, declining a significant offer that he knew wasn't enough, wiping the beer spray off of his goggles to see that his client is the irrelevant-to-the-world woman in the bed (and not her sister and brother-in-law), Frank Galvin does what he has to do, regardless of the outcome. He is her lawyer; he has no choice. Man, how I wish we all could really feel this way, just once. Pure, raw and real. God's gift of talent made manifest in the drunken remnants of one who was formerly prematurely designated a "success" and then a "failure". The Lord works in mysterious ways. James Mason is so damned perfect in his role as the big city, big firm defense attorney, comprised of equal parts talent and preparation; mentoring his troops even as he protects his client. The Verdict evidences the intangible yet palpable faith of a trial lawyer in the truth (and in a panel of ordinary citizens that he hopes will divine the truth from the facts) in spite of the law; a reminder to all that a talent for spinning the facts is inferior to society's aptitude for seeing through the b.s.; an exemplar of the power of honor and the burden of obligation. It remains one of the very best stories ever brought to film. Smell the snow evaporating off of the radiators. Listen to the pinball machine's soft old bells, now twenty five years old, racking up the score. Taste the raw eggs and beer, a warrior's breakfast, long ago abandoned in this age of legal malpractice lawsuits. Feel the joy of infatuation and the raw pain of a lie. Believe in Frank. Believe in the case. Believe in Justice. Newman and Mason deserved better than Oscars for this film. Buy the DVD and pop a big ol' bowl of pop-corn. Enjoy their performances and accept that this is as good as it gets. Bet you can't play it just once.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 28, 2005
Format: DVD
This is one of those mystery/suspense movies that I can watch over and over because it is so well made. "The Verdict" stars Paul Newman in one of his best roles. It was a tough year for Best Actor Oscar in 1982 but it's still a shame he didn't win it then. He plays a ambulance-chasing attorney who spends too much time drinking his lunch and too little researching his limited work. A friend of his with some connections steers a fairly routine lawsuit his way but even that case he manages to mess up. Having tossed away a large out-of-court settlement, he now has to make his case against a well-staffed powerful opponent. That's probably more of the plot than needs to be revealed so I'll leave it at that.

Like most excellent movies, "The Verdict" combines excellent writing directing and acting. The supporting cast includes great preformances by James Mason and Jack Warden. There are twists and turns as the movie evolves into a great courtroom drama.

Newman is outstanding in his portrayal of a man who suddenly realizes that he is about to blow his last chance at making something of his life. The writer and director gave him the opportunity and he delivered with a home run. This is one of those movies that would be enjoyable for all but the very young. If you haven't seen it yet, then it's about time.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 5, 2002
Format: DVD
Sidney Lumet. David Mamet. Paul Newman. Charlotte Rampling. Jack Warden. James Mason. Thats a lot of talent & everyone is at their best in this movie which is often referred to as a courtroom drama but really only a very small amount of this film actually takes place in court. Much more time is spent at the local bars Frank Gavin has spent his waning years drowning in. Frank says at one point, "its a long road that doesn't have any turns in it." Well the court case that Jack Warden hands him on a silver platter is one of those turns. And to Franks credit he more than rises to the occasion but not without many moments of self-doubt and self-examination. Frank also begins a love affair while he is preparing to go to trial and that love affair with Charlotte Rampling is well drawn. Both are at all time low points in their lives. She keeps up with Frank when he is drinking and has as many tales of woe as he. That is yet another attractive component to this many layered look at Frank. As the relationship develops Frank is forced to see himself and his failures through her eyes and that as much as the pending court case contributes to his reformation. Charlotte Rampling gives a wonderful performance as a woman at the end of her rope, just barely hanging on. She needs the relationship to work but has very little left in the way of emotional resources. She too is looking to rehabilitate herself and is in a unique position to understand Franks efforts. Mamet is great at tough love and the most famous scene in the movie is certainly that.
Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon is one of the most studied films by up and coming directors, and this one too has some of those masterful director signature moments in it, ie the last scene in the movie with Paul in his office after the trial and the phone ringing and ringing and Paul just sitting still in his newfound quiet. Fade out to credits.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2006
Format: DVD
His words to the jury, a petition for strength for them against great odds, for himself against greater odds, for a system sometimes blind to justice, and for the victim of negligence who has no voice, puts a lump in your throat today 25 years after the release of 'The Verdict.'

TV bytes and news reports of lawyers' greed today have surpassed the image of scoundrels as nearly all of us now just leave them to their money-grubbing best. And the courage and brilliance of "Brown v. Board" and "Heart of Atlanta" exemplifying courageous men and women doing what is best fade into a distant past. But once in while a movie ('Mockingbird') comes along and moves powerfully to recall what it was that attracted us to the beauty of this ancient profession: to do what is right, or even better, to do what is right against great odds.

Frank Galvin, drunk, ambulance chaser, liar, failure, had that dream once but a mistake, an error of judgemnt, a naive trust in loyalty that was gravely misplaced led him to where he is now, sucking on breath mints and bourbon, handing out cards, working for booze money.

His old friend Jack Warden handed him a case, a no-brainer, a lovely Irish girl who went into labor and came out brain dead. The Defendants? A squeaky clean, Chaired, lauded, published and handsome OBGYN and . . . . the Diocese of Boston. And Frank's going to cave. Hell. It's the eve of trial and he's been drunk through the 24 months of discovery. And then he prepares for the Settlement Conference with the Dfense Lawyer, James Mason (just positively brilliant) and goes to the girls hospital room where she is machine fed and takes photos. But a funny thing happens. Lke Marcellus (Burton) winning the Robe in the lottery at the foot of the cross or a drunk at his first AA meeting, Frank's not sure but something's different. And he begins to wonder if maybe this time he won't cave.

Great, morbid, wry, ironic, gallows humor. Warden says after the Settlement Conference, "whadja' think of (Mason)?" Galvin: He's good. Warden: Good? He's the [. . . . .] Prince of Darkness.

A cast that you have heard of and seen a thousand times and some that you would never see again all working together to bring you a blue collar story of the good thief. I don't know that there is a better trial movie.

People say that Newman lost but wasn't robbed for the Oscar because Ben Kingley was so wonderful in Ghandi.

He was robbed. 5 stars. Larry Scantlebury
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 1999
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
Mixing the talents of three all time greats in a movie should produce solid results; failures do occur, but here we see the peak of success. Sidney Lumet directs Paul Newman and James Mason in a powerhouse film which, though generally downbeat, never loses your attention and indeed grips in its storyline and through these performances. Newman plays a laywer who's seen the good times, (way back), but is now in a shambling and hopeless state. His friend, played by the ever reliable Jack Warden, though near the end of his tether at Newman's pathetic drunken state, gives him a possible lifeline in a malpractice case. To Warden's relief he takes it, but more important takes it seriously, and despite an ever spiralling course of events which seem certain to bring about his final, total demise, Newman finally triumphs. The finale is absorbing and superb! Alas, and not terribly surprisingly based on the farce which is so often the Oscar Ceremony, the film, Newman, and Mason all failed to win the oscars they so richly deserved. A crime that Newman should lose for this, then be given one of those pathetic Honorary Awards (remember when they gave one to the previously un-Oscared Kirk Douglas for his performance having a stroke? No doubt they thought it would be their last chance before he died, pleasingly Mr. Douglas has proved them wrong), and then a genuine one for Newman the next year in "The Color Of Money" because the first was seen through for what it was: a too late apology. As for Mr. Mason, this sadly would be his third and final failure at garnering an Oscar, (as he did pass away two years later), beaten by Louis Gosset Jr. for a non-stop-yelling performance which totally lacked the sublety which made Mason's so much MORE menacing. Enough griping, watch this film and you'll see why these two actors are probably the finest their respective countries have ever produced. Deep, harrowing at times, but nonetheless a real treat!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2006
Format: DVD
The Verdict is one of the most powerful films I've ever seen in my life. Frankly, I'm not sure what to rave over more--Newman's acting ability or the script itself. Imagining a physically gifted and charismatic man like Newman as an alcoholic loser on his last legs is not an easy thing to do, but his performance accomplishes this seamlessly. As for Mason, what a loss his death was because even nearing the end of his life he could do absolutely everything. His portrayal of Concannon is quite amazing. In O'Shea, Warden, and Rampling the lesser characters become quite major, and the courtroom finale is so good that I watched it several times over again. This should be on everyone's Top 50 list, in my humble opinion.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I agree with the other reviewers that Paul Newman gives the best performance of his career in this intense, well-designed film. There are numerous scenes which are shown without a cut, providing the viewers with an uninterrupted examination of the actors' interactions. Some include (without giving away too much): Newman's character (Frank Galvin) in conflict with the judge's actions toward the court proceedings, Newman and Warden preparing for the trial and the circumstances weighing heavily against them.
All the supporting actors are excellent. Among the noteables: James Mason as the powerhouse defense attorney with a malicious underhand, Milo O'Shea as the unsympathetic judge, Jack Warden as Newman's friend, mentor, and seemingly sole supporter, Charlotte Rampling as Newman's girlfriend with a shady side to herself.
There are a few plotholes and moments of overly dramatic "courtroom hysterics" within the film. Overlook them and enjoy an otherwise very strong movie.
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