The Verdict (1982)

R | 126 mins | Drama | 17 December 1982

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HISTORY

       An advertisement in the 28 Jan 1983 DV noted that onscreen credit acknowledging the Astoria Production Center in Astoria, NY, was “inadvertently omitted from the end titles” and, “The Producers would like to thank the administrators of the facility for their assistance, cooperation and interest during the filming of The Verdict.”
       The actress who plays the widow in the opening funeral scene is not credited onscreen and her identity has not been determined.
       According to a 14 Feb 1982 LAT article, producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown purchased the motion picture rights to Boston, MA, attorney Barry Reed’s 1980 novel, The Verdict, before its publication later that year. The deal was made for $150,000, plus two and one-half percent of the film’s eventual box-office gross, and the 1 Apr 1981 HR announced that the duo had negotiated distribution through Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. A 2 Jan 1981 HR brief suggested that Roy Scheider was considered to play “Frank Galvin,” but a 31 Aug 1981 LAT story indicated that Brown and Zanuck had long pursued Robert Redford for the role. Their first-choice director, James Bridges, was preoccupied preparing Urban Cowboy (1980, see entry), and the project was delayed as they searched for another director and considered scripts written by playwright David Mamet and Jay Presson Allen. Mamet’s involvement was reported in the 22 Jul 1980 DV, just weeks after the 7 Jul 1980 HR announced that Arthur Hiller had been chosen to direct. Production was scheduled for early 1981. However, the 14 Feb 1982 LAT ... More Less

       An advertisement in the 28 Jan 1983 DV noted that onscreen credit acknowledging the Astoria Production Center in Astoria, NY, was “inadvertently omitted from the end titles” and, “The Producers would like to thank the administrators of the facility for their assistance, cooperation and interest during the filming of The Verdict.”
       The actress who plays the widow in the opening funeral scene is not credited onscreen and her identity has not been determined.
       According to a 14 Feb 1982 LAT article, producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown purchased the motion picture rights to Boston, MA, attorney Barry Reed’s 1980 novel, The Verdict, before its publication later that year. The deal was made for $150,000, plus two and one-half percent of the film’s eventual box-office gross, and the 1 Apr 1981 HR announced that the duo had negotiated distribution through Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. A 2 Jan 1981 HR brief suggested that Roy Scheider was considered to play “Frank Galvin,” but a 31 Aug 1981 LAT story indicated that Brown and Zanuck had long pursued Robert Redford for the role. Their first-choice director, James Bridges, was preoccupied preparing Urban Cowboy (1980, see entry), and the project was delayed as they searched for another director and considered scripts written by playwright David Mamet and Jay Presson Allen. Mamet’s involvement was reported in the 22 Jul 1980 DV, just weeks after the 7 Jul 1980 HR announced that Arthur Hiller had been chosen to direct. Production was scheduled for early 1981. However, the 14 Feb 1982 LAT claimed that “conceptual differences” arose between them, which resulted in Hiller’s departure and Mamet’s eventual replacement with Allen.
       Brown and Zanuck then approached Sidney Lumet to direct, but he was also unavailable at the time. Following the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike in 1981, Bridges returned to the project with his own script, at which point Redford made a verbal commitment to star. Although he had no written deal, the 20 May 1981 Var reported that the actor approved the inclusion of his name in a publicity brochure advertising upcoming Fox projects. An earlier 24 Feb 1982 Var brief indicated that Brown was concerned that the threatened 1 Jul 1981 Directors Guild of America (DGA) strike could interrupt production if principal photography did not begin before 15 Apr 1981, but filmmakers eventually decided to wait out the strike and delay production until 1 Aug 1981. The estimated $12-14 million budget was expected to be balanced around Redford’s potential salary. As stated in the 31 Aug 1981 LAT, Zanuck/Brown Productions agreed to co-produce with Redford’s company, Wildwood Enterprises, and the actor insisted that his Ordinary People (1980, see entry) production manager and producer, Ronald L. Schwary, be given producing credit and a percentage of The Verdict’s grosses. Although the latter request was denied, Zanuck/Brown agreed to Schwary’s involvement.
       Meanwhile, a 1 Jul 1981 HR brief indicated that the budget had been increased to $16 million. Even though the DGA strike had been averted, production continued to be postponed throughout the summer: various contemporary sources indicated that the start date in Boston was repeatedly pushed back well into mid-Oct 1981. While completing his screenplay, Bridges traveled to Boston to meet with potential set designer Terry Marsh, who agreed to reconstruct the interiors of a Suffolk County, MA, Superior Court room on the Fox studio lot in Los Angeles, CA. Despite Fox’s past refusal to film in MA due to the state’s “anti-blind bidding” law forbidding exhibitors to purchase unseen studio films, the article credited MA Film Bureau director Mary Lou Crane for appealing to filmmakers and studio executives, thus ensuring The Verdict would still be partially shot there.
       The story also suggested that Sally Field was considered to join the cast, and that Paul Newman would play Redford’s rival attorney, “Ed Concannon,” igniting false media reports of their first onscreen reunion since starring together in The Sting (1973, see entry). Despite a revised production start date of 14 Oct 1981, the 31 Aug 1981 LAT announced that Bridges left the project due to creative differences with Redford over his screenplay: on 28 Aug 1981, the director’s agents informed Zanuck/Brown that he intended to move on to another upcoming Fox feature titled Manhattan Melodies. Within a week, the 2 Sep 1981 LAT reported that Redford was ultimately “released” from the film, since producers favored Bridges’ version of the script, and, according to the 14 Feb 1981 LAT, the actor intended to play Galvin as “a crusader on a white horse,” which greatly differed from Reed’s original character. As it was considered unlikely that Bridges would return, the 22 Sep 1981 DV confirmed that Sidney Lumet elected to direct Mamet’s version of the screenplay. Despite the 21 Sep 1981 LAHExam’s claim that Jon Voight had been hired as Redford’s replacement, a 23 Nov 1981 DV brief announced that Newman had assumed the lead role.
       The 2 Dec 1981 Var reported that Lumet scouted Boston locations with MA Film Bureau employees Crane and Roger Burke. Two weeks of location filming were scheduled to take place Feb 1982, followed by interiors constructed at Astoria Studios in New York City. The 14 Feb 1982 LAT suggested that Lumet chose to relocate production from Los Angeles to New York City, and even minimized the Boston shooting schedule by substituting various exteriors with locations in Brooklyn Heights, NY, and a library at Fordham University, which served as a courtroom. Although a 21 Jan 1982 DV brief anticipated a 1 Feb 1982 start date, 12 Feb 1982 HR production charts confirmed that principal photography began a day later, on 2 Feb 1982. The 15 Feb 1982 LAHExam estimated that filming in New York City would not be completed until 12 Apr 1982.
       According to a 24 Feb 1982 Var item, Boston WNAC-TV news publicity manager Jim Byrne filmed two scenes with Newman, but he is not credited onscreen. In addition, the 10 Dec 1982 issue of Back Stage reported that composer Johnny Mandel’s score included vocals by Kid & Co. Management, Inc. choir, conducted by Adrienne Albert during a recording session at A&R Recording Studio in summer 1982. Neither the choir nor Albert receives onscreen credit. A cast list included among publicity materials in AMPAS library files indicated that the character played by James Handy was originally named “Dick Doneghy,” and was later changed to “Kevin Doneghy.”
       On 30 Jun 1982, Var reported that Fox decided to switch the 17 Dec 1982 and Feb 1983 release dates of Monsignor (1982, see entry) and The Verdict, owning to the former film’s “controversial subject matter” possibly considered “inappropriate for the Christmas season.” Monsignor was eventually rescheduled to open 22 Oct 1982. A 15 Sep 1982 Var brief announced that the New York City Will Rogers Institute benefit premiere would take place 7 Dec 1982 at the Ziegfeld Theater, while the 10 Dec 1982 LAT stated that the AMPAS premiere gala was scheduled for 15 Dec 1982 in Los Angeles, supporting the Institute for Cancer and Blood Research.
       Shortly following the film’s national release, the 7 Jan 1983 LAT claimed that producers Zanuck and Brown were displeased with various media reports crediting former Fox Production President Sherry Lansing with creative influence over the picture’s ending. Filmmakers confirmed Lansing’s support throughout their partnership with the studio, but stated that she had no involvement in production decisions, and only director Sidney Lumet had control of the final theatrical cut.
       A 9 Mar 1983 DV story stated that multiple partners through SLM Entertainment Ltd., III, had invested $25 million to production and distribution costs of three 1982 Fox pictures, Monsignor, Kiss Me Goodbye (see entry), and The Verdict. According to a 26 Oct 1982 HR article, the total production budget for the three films was estimated to have been about $37 million, with an additional $37 million spent on marketing and exhibition.
       In 1985, the 22 Feb 1985 DV stated that studio audits performed in fall 1984 revealed that Fox had redistributed nearly $300,000 of box-office earnings from The Verdict to the “disappointing” totals for Monsignor in order to acquire a more favorable Home Box Office (HBO) licensing fee for Monsignor. The article claimed that this was likely achieved with the assistance of a theater exhibition chain that agreed to overpay Monsignor receipts while comparably reducing those for The Verdict. The $300,000, however, had since been restored to The Verdict’s collective gross.
       The Verdict received critical acclaim and earned five Golden Globe nominations and five Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor in a Leading Role—Paul Newman, and Actor in a Supporting Role—James Mason. The film also ranked #75 on AFI's list of the 100 Most Inspiring Films of All Time.
      End credits note that “the Producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of The Massachusetts Film Bureau and The New York City Mayor’s Office of Motion Pictures & Television.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Back Stage
10 Dec 1982.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jul 1980.
---
Daily Variety
22 Sep 1981.
---
Daily Variety
23 Nov 1981.
---
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1982.
---
Daily Variety
28 Jan 1983.
---
Daily Variety
9 Mar 1983
p. 1, 30.
Daily Variety
22 Feb 1985
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jan 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1982
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 1982
pp. 3-4, 11.
LAHExam
21 Sep 1981.
---
LAHExam
15 Feb 1982
Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
31 Aug 1981
Section VI, p. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
2 Sep 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Feb 1982
pp. 24-25.
Los Angeles Times
10 Dec 1982
Section V, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1982
p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
7 Jan 1983
Section VI, p. 1, 8.
New York Times
8 Dec 1982
p. 24.
Variety
24 Feb 1981.
---
Variety
20 May 1981
p. 3, 58.
Variety
2 Dec 1981.
---
Variety
30 Jun 1982.
---
Variety
24 Feb 1982.
---
Variety
15 Sep 1982.
---
Variety
24 Nov 1982
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Zanuck/Brown Production
Produced by Fox-Zanuck/Brown Productions
Released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
2d asst cam
Stillman
Gaffer
Key grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Set dresser
Const foreman
Const grip
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus eng
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Boom man
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod office coord
Transportation capt
Asst to Mr. Lumet
Prod asst
Prod asst
Unit pub
Casting
Boston casting
COLOR PERSONNEL
Color by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Verdict by Barry Reed (New York, 1980).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 December 1982
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 7 December 1982
New York opening: 8 December 1982
Los Angeles premiere: 15 December 1982
Los Angeles opening: 17 December 1982
Production Date:
2 February--mid April 1982 in Boston, MA, and New York City
Copyright Claimant:
20th Century-Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
5 January 1983
Copyright Number:
PA159193
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Deluxe
Duration(in mins):
126
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26710
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

While attending the wake of a former acquaintance, struggling Boston, Massachusetts, attorney Francis “Frank” P. Galvin offers his business card to members of the family, but the gesture offends the grieving son, and Frank is thrown out of the funeral home. Later, he becomes intoxicated and destroys his office until his former law associate, Mickey Morrisey, exasperatedly informs him that he is due to appear in court in two weeks for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Leaving a note for his secretary, he returns to the bar before trudging to the hospital to observe his client, a brain-damaged patient now surviving on life support. Back at his office, he meets the patient’s sister, Sally Doneghy, and reviews the case: during the birth of her third child in an Irish Catholic hospital four years earlier, Deborah Ann Kaye was given the wrong anaesthetic, vomited into her oxygen mask, and stopped breathing. Abandoned by her husband, the comatose Deborah was left in Sally’s care, but the overburdened sister finally decided it was time to “let go” by filing a lawsuit and accepting her husband Kevin’s job transfer to Arizona. Upon hearing their story, Frank is confident that the Archdiocese of Boston will wish to avoid taking the case to court and offer a settlement sufficient to cover the costs of Deborah’s continuing medical care. Meanwhile, the hospital’s Bishop Brophy reviews Frank’s once-prestigious law career, which began its steep decline after he was once accused of jury tampering. Although he hopes to keep the case out of the public eye, Brophy and his aides sense that Frank is scared to challenge them in the courtroom. Gathering witnesses, Frank visits renowned anesthesiologist Dr. David ... +


While attending the wake of a former acquaintance, struggling Boston, Massachusetts, attorney Francis “Frank” P. Galvin offers his business card to members of the family, but the gesture offends the grieving son, and Frank is thrown out of the funeral home. Later, he becomes intoxicated and destroys his office until his former law associate, Mickey Morrisey, exasperatedly informs him that he is due to appear in court in two weeks for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Leaving a note for his secretary, he returns to the bar before trudging to the hospital to observe his client, a brain-damaged patient now surviving on life support. Back at his office, he meets the patient’s sister, Sally Doneghy, and reviews the case: during the birth of her third child in an Irish Catholic hospital four years earlier, Deborah Ann Kaye was given the wrong anaesthetic, vomited into her oxygen mask, and stopped breathing. Abandoned by her husband, the comatose Deborah was left in Sally’s care, but the overburdened sister finally decided it was time to “let go” by filing a lawsuit and accepting her husband Kevin’s job transfer to Arizona. Upon hearing their story, Frank is confident that the Archdiocese of Boston will wish to avoid taking the case to court and offer a settlement sufficient to cover the costs of Deborah’s continuing medical care. Meanwhile, the hospital’s Bishop Brophy reviews Frank’s once-prestigious law career, which began its steep decline after he was once accused of jury tampering. Although he hopes to keep the case out of the public eye, Brophy and his aides sense that Frank is scared to challenge them in the courtroom. Gathering witnesses, Frank visits renowned anesthesiologist Dr. David Gruber, who surprises Frank by pressuring him to take the suit to court in order to punish Deborah’s doctors. After agreeing to reconvene for a formal deposition, Frank triumphantly heads to the bar for a drink, where he briefly speaks with a woman searching the newspaper listings for an apartment. He later returns to Deborah’s room in the hospital and is deeply affected by her misfortune. When Bishop Brophy offers him a $210,000 settlement, Frank rejects the money, realizing the immorality of collecting a paycheck without convicting the doctors responsible. Mickey criticizes his decision, but the two resolutely review evidence as the Archdiocese’s defending lawyer, Ed Concannon, briefs his large legal team on the details of the case and analyze Frank’s refusal to settle. At the end of the workday, Frank returns to the bar and spots the same woman, who introduces herself as a recent divorcée named Laura Fischer. After taking her to dinner, he invites her to his drab apartment to have sex, and she laughs at him for keeping a photograph of his former wife on his bedside table. Convincing Concannon and the skeptical Judge Hoyle that he plans to pursue the case, Frank timidly interviews his jurors. On his way to meet Dr. Gruber, he is confronted by Kevin Doneghy, who is furious about the decision to bypass the settlement. Unable to find Dr. Gruber in his office, Frank learns that his primary witness has since fled to the Caribbean, panics, and requests for an extension from the judge. Annoyed, Hoyle refuses, so Frank desperately, and unsuccessfully, attempts to appeal the Archdiocese’s offer. As Concannon rigorously coaches his witnesses, Frank hastily finds an alternate anesthesiologist named Dr. Lionel Thompson, and Deborah’s obstinate obstetrics nurse, Maureen Rooney. She refuses to testify, however, calling Frank an acquisitive lawyer and slamming the door in his face. That night, Dr. Thompson rehearses his answers for the courtroom, but his inexperience and unfamiliarity with medical terms destroys Frank’s confidence. When he mopes about his failure, Laura refuses to show him sympathy and pressures him to “grow up.” As the trial ensues the next morning, Concannon undermines Dr. Thompson’s authority by pointing out that he is frequently paid to testify in malpractice suits. In addition, Judge Hoyle impatiently interrupts Frank’s questioning in order to speed up the proceedings. During the lunch recess, Frank angrily threatens to file for a mistrial before returning to the courtroom and berating his next witness, Dr. Robert S. Towler, claiming that he has lied about the length of time it took to restore Deborah’s heartbeat after she suffered cardiac arrest. That evening, Frank dismisses Dr. Thompson and then tricks Maureen Rooney into telling him where to find another operating nurse, Kaitlin Costello Price, whose notes indicated that Deborah had eaten a full meal one hour prior to surgery. As Laura continues her relationship with Frank, she visits Concannon in his office, where the lawyer welcomes her back to her former job as a member of his firm. After using telephone records to contact Kaitlin, Frank tracks her down in New York City and pleads for her to appear in court. Laura agrees to meet Frank for lunch, but Mickey finds a paycheck from Concannon’s firm in her purse and rushes to the city to tell him of her deception. Upon seeing her, Frank punches Laura in the face and returns to Boston. Now refusing Mickey’s suggestion for mistrial, Frank surprises the court by calling Kaitlin to the witness stand to negate Dr. Towler’s claim that Deborah had fasted for nine hours before the procedure. Concannon shows her a conflicting document and accuses her of lying, but she procures a personal copy of the form, revealing that Dr. Towler blackmailed her into changing the number to protect his career following a series of problematic deliveries. As she leaves the room in tears, Concannon objects to Kaitlin’s unexpected appearance and her use of unapproved evidence. In agreement, Judge Hoyle instructs the jury to entirely disregard her testimony, but Bishop Brophy worries that the jurors may still believe her story. During his final appeal, Frank urges them to consider their religious values and humanity’s intrinsic sense of justice. After deliberation, the jury rules in favor of Deborah Ann Kaye and agrees to award her family a sum much higher than originally established by the plaintiff. Frank sees Laura standing outside the courtroom after the victory, but she disappears before he can approach. That evening, she telephones him from her hotel room, but he leans back in his office chair, letting the call ring unanswered. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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