...And Justice for All (1979)

R | 119 mins | Comedy-drama | 1979

Director:

Norman Jewison

Cinematographer:

Victor J. Kemper

Editor:

John F. Burnett

Production Designer:

Richard MacDonald

Production Company:

Malton Films
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HISTORY

The end credits include the following acknowledgement: "Our Thanks to the People of Baltimore, Maryland and Mayor William Donald Schaefer."
       According to production notes found in AMPAS library files, writer Barry Levinson created attorney “Arthur Kirkland” as a minor character for an earlier script. After finding the part increasingly engaging, he decided to focus on a new script with Kirkland at the center, and worked on the story with his wife, Valerie Curtin. The screenplay marked their first time collaborating. For research, they observed judicial trials in Los Angeles, CA, and Baltimore, MD. Once the first draft was completed, they offered it to director and co-producer, Norman Jewison, who viewed the courtroom drama as a “terrifying comedy.”
       As indicated in production notes, Levinson and Curtin had Al Pacino in mind for the lead from the beginning, which made sense to Jewison. After participating in a workshop reading of the script, Pacino was interested in taking on the role. The date of his availability was uncertain, but Jewison was willing to wait, as reported in a 22 Jul 1978 LAT column. The actor was expecting his next film to be an Oliver Stone script titled Born on the Fourth of July (1989, see entry). When that project was delayed, Pacino withdrew, and Jewison was able to sign him by the end of Aug 1978, according to briefs in the 7 Aug 1978 HR and the 30 Aug 1978 DV.
       The film represented an onscreen reunion for Pacino and his former acting teacher, Lee Strasberg, who played “Grandpa Sam,” as stated in production notes. ... More Less

The end credits include the following acknowledgement: "Our Thanks to the People of Baltimore, Maryland and Mayor William Donald Schaefer."
       According to production notes found in AMPAS library files, writer Barry Levinson created attorney “Arthur Kirkland” as a minor character for an earlier script. After finding the part increasingly engaging, he decided to focus on a new script with Kirkland at the center, and worked on the story with his wife, Valerie Curtin. The screenplay marked their first time collaborating. For research, they observed judicial trials in Los Angeles, CA, and Baltimore, MD. Once the first draft was completed, they offered it to director and co-producer, Norman Jewison, who viewed the courtroom drama as a “terrifying comedy.”
       As indicated in production notes, Levinson and Curtin had Al Pacino in mind for the lead from the beginning, which made sense to Jewison. After participating in a workshop reading of the script, Pacino was interested in taking on the role. The date of his availability was uncertain, but Jewison was willing to wait, as reported in a 22 Jul 1978 LAT column. The actor was expecting his next film to be an Oliver Stone script titled Born on the Fourth of July (1989, see entry). When that project was delayed, Pacino withdrew, and Jewison was able to sign him by the end of Aug 1978, according to briefs in the 7 Aug 1978 HR and the 30 Aug 1978 DV.
       The film represented an onscreen reunion for Pacino and his former acting teacher, Lee Strasberg, who played “Grandpa Sam,” as stated in production notes. They had previously acted together in Godfather II (1974, see entry). Jewison cast Christine Lahti after noticing her in the television movie, The Last Tenant. The character of “Jeff McCullaugh” was based on a real-life incident involving a man who served several months in prison for a minor traffic offense on account of an administrative error, and actor Thomas Waites read through the case file in preparation for playing McCullaugh.
       The screenplay was originally set in Levinson’s hometown of Baltimore, but thirty other cities were considered during pre-production, according to a 14 Jan 1979 LAT article. For example, HR and DV briefs from 30 Aug 1978 reported that the filmmakers were planning to shoot in Philadelphia, PA. Jewison cited filming access to courtrooms, specifically the historic Criminal Courts Building [now known as Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse], as a major reason for returning to the initial setting of Baltimore. In the LAT article, as well as in production notes, Jewison emphasized that the majestic ambiance of Baltimore’s courthouse built in the 1890s and enhanced by murals of American art, was essential in conveying the story’s “timeless atmosphere.” Another factor in selecting Baltimore was the city’s generous cooperation; a 20 Nov 1978 Box article reported that the Mayor’s office had recently established a commission to attract and facilitate motion picture productions.
       The 14 Jan 1979 LAT stated that Jewison turned down the American Bar Association’s offer to advise and cooperate with the production through their ABA Film Office. He wanted to avoid their possible grievance over the script’s satirical depiction of judges and lawyers. However, the filmmakers did make an effort to reassure the judicial community in Baltimore that the irreverence was not aimed specifically at them.
       Shooting began with four weeks of location work in Baltimore, according to the 14 Jan 1979 LAT. The start date was reported as 6 Nov 1978 in a 27 Oct 1978 DV brief and as 7 Nov 1978 in a 8 Nov 1978 HR brief. A DV item dated 29 Dec 1978 announced that the production had moved to the stages of Culver City Studios in Los Angeles, CA, on 28 Dec 1978, almost a week ahead of schedule. A promotional spread in the 24 Jan 1979 HR advertised that principal photography had completed.
       The production budget was listed as $11.5 million in a 20 Nov 1978 Box article. In his column for the 5 Jan 1979 DV, Army Archerd reported the costs as $6 million, which included Pacino’s upfront salary of $1.5 million. A 20 Nov 1978 LAT article also noted the budget as $6 million.
       A 16 Jul 1979 DV article announced that Toronto’s Festival of Festivals would host the film’s world premiere as the festival’s closing night presentation on 15 Sep 1979.
       Following the opening, 14 Dec 1979 issues of HR and DV reported that the domestic gross had surpassed $23 million, ranking the film among the most profitable studio releases of the fall.
       A headline from a 28 Jan 1980 DV article read that the ABC network paid $60 million for the television rights to a group of Columbia Pictures, which included …And Justice for All, Kramer vs. Kramer (1979, entry) and Chapter Two (1979, see entry). At the time, the deal was considered one of the most expensive network sales of its kind.
       Reviews were mixed. Many critics thought that the film was unsuccessful at blending comic eccentricities of the courtroom with the tragedy and corruption of Kirkland’s cases. Vincent Canby called it “‘hysteria’” rather than satire in his 19 Oct 1979 NYT review, concluding that the film lacked a point of view. Similarly, the Var critic on 19 Sep 1979 wrote that the weak “‘central plot and the continuous mood changes will disappoint those looking for a serious statement on the country’s legal system.’” In his review for the 14 Oct 1979 LAT, Charles Champlin was enthusiastic, viewing it as a weighty melodrama with nervous laughter that will “‘linger’” with audiences for its powerful indictment against the criminal justice system. He added that the film “‘provides what is perhaps the most rousing finale since Rocky’” (1976, see entry).
       The film received two Academy Award nominations: Actor in Leading Role for Al Pacino and Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen). It was Pacino’s fifth Oscar nomination.
       …And Justice For All represented feature film debuts for actors Jeffrey Tambor, Larry Bryggman and Christine Lahti. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Nov 1978.
---
Daily Variety
30 Aug 1978.
---
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1978.
---
Daily Variety
14 Nov 1978.
---
Daily Variety
29 Dec 1978.
---
Daily Variety
5 Jan 1979.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jul 1979.
---
Daily Variety
27 Nov 1979
p. 1, 19.
Daily Variety
14 Dec 1979.
---
Daily Variety
28 Jan 1980.
---
Films in Review
Dec 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1979
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Dec 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Jul 1978
Section 2, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
17 Nov 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Nov 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Jan 1979
Section N, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
14 Oct 1979
p. 1.
Marquee
Sep/Oct 1979
pp. 10-11, 13.
Millimeter
Apr 1979
p. 117.
Millimeter
Oct 1979.
---
New York Times
19 Oct 1979
p. 18.
Publishers Weekly
6 Nov 1978.
---
TV Guide
10 Oct 1981.
---
Variety
15 Feb 1978.
---
Variety
6 Sep 1978.
---
Variety
1 Nov 1978.
---
Variety
19 Sep 1979
p. 18.
Variety
19 Dec 1979.
---
Variety
26 Dec 1979.
---
Village Voice
10 Dec 1979.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
co-starring
Featuring
Featuring
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures presents
a Joe Wizan presentation of
a Norman Jewison film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Pres/Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op, Baltimore
Cam op, Los Angeles
Cam tech, Baltimore
Cam tech, Los Angeles
Still photog, Baltimore
Still photog, Los Angeles
Aerial photog
Key grip
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Const coord
Const foreman
Prop master
2d propman
Leadman
COSTUMES
Cost des
SOUND
Supv sd eff ed
Prod mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Prod coord
Personal asst to Mr. Jewison
Prod asst
Loc mgr
Unit pub
Extra casting, Baltimore
Extra casting, Baltimore
Helicopter pilot
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
SOURCES
SONGS
"Something Funny Goin' On," music by Dave Grusin, lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, sung by Zack Sanders and the N.Y. Jailhouse Ensemble.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1979
Premiere Information:
Toronto Festival of Festivals screening: 15 September 1979
Los Angeles and New York openings: 19 October 1979
Production Date:
early November 1978--late January 1979
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 October 1979
Copyright Number:
PA49130
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor®
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
119
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25623
SYNOPSIS

Late at night, Arthur Kirkland, a defense attorney in Baltimore, Maryland, is released from jail. Earlier, he had tried to punch Judge Fleming, resulting in an arrest for contempt of court. While Arthur is leaving, Ralph Agee, a transvestite, is brought in and strip-searched in front of the cellblock. As the prisoners heckle, a guard ignores Arthur’s suggestion that Ralph be placed in a separate area. A few hours later at the courthouse, Jay Porter, Arthur’s law partner, informs him that the Ethics Committee is now watching every lawyer closely and admonishes him for threatening Judge Fleming. In a holding area of the courthouse, Arthur speaks with his client, Jeff McCullaugh, a nervous young man, who is baffled why he remains in custody since he is innocent. As Jeff boards a police van for the city jail, Arthur promises to free him soon. In the hallway, Arthur apologizes to Fleming for losing his temper and brings up Jeff McCullaugh, but Fleming refuses to discuss the case with him. On another day, Arthur gives testimony to the Ethics Committee. After being asked pointless questions about colleagues, he walks out of the proceedings. Afterward, Gail Packer, one of the committee members, tries to reason with Arthur that these hearings are not a “witch-hunt,” but an effort to identify corruption. Despite their differing opinions, Gail agrees to meet him for drinks later. At the police station, Arthur confers with Ralph about his robbery charge. After weeding out Ralph’s lies, Arthur says that he will represent him. That evening, Gail returns with Arthur to his apartment. Over ... +


Late at night, Arthur Kirkland, a defense attorney in Baltimore, Maryland, is released from jail. Earlier, he had tried to punch Judge Fleming, resulting in an arrest for contempt of court. While Arthur is leaving, Ralph Agee, a transvestite, is brought in and strip-searched in front of the cellblock. As the prisoners heckle, a guard ignores Arthur’s suggestion that Ralph be placed in a separate area. A few hours later at the courthouse, Jay Porter, Arthur’s law partner, informs him that the Ethics Committee is now watching every lawyer closely and admonishes him for threatening Judge Fleming. In a holding area of the courthouse, Arthur speaks with his client, Jeff McCullaugh, a nervous young man, who is baffled why he remains in custody since he is innocent. As Jeff boards a police van for the city jail, Arthur promises to free him soon. In the hallway, Arthur apologizes to Fleming for losing his temper and brings up Jeff McCullaugh, but Fleming refuses to discuss the case with him. On another day, Arthur gives testimony to the Ethics Committee. After being asked pointless questions about colleagues, he walks out of the proceedings. Afterward, Gail Packer, one of the committee members, tries to reason with Arthur that these hearings are not a “witch-hunt,” but an effort to identify corruption. Despite their differing opinions, Gail agrees to meet him for drinks later. At the police station, Arthur confers with Ralph about his robbery charge. After weeding out Ralph’s lies, Arthur says that he will represent him. That evening, Gail returns with Arthur to his apartment. Over Chinese takeout, they discuss the flaws of the legal system. As a way of illustrating, he outlines the case of Jeff McCullaugh, who is guilty of a broken taillight but remains in jail after a year because of mistaken identity. Arthur explains that when Judge Fleming was reassigned to the case, he threw out evidence that could have exonerated Jeff because it was submitted three days late. After Gail states that Fleming was just obeying the law, Arthur cautions that defending Fleming will hurt her chances of seducing him. Sometime later at the courthouse, Warren Fresnell, a fellow defense attorney, and Jay break the news to Arthur that Judge Fleming was just booked for rape and wants Arthur to defend him. During a meeting with Fleming and his advisor, Marvin Bates, Arthur asks why they want him as defense counsel, and Bates explains that they need Arthur for political reasons. Since the hostility between Arthur and Fleming is well-known, Arthur’s participation will signal strong confidence in the judge’s innocence. Arthur refuses their offer and leaves. Over the weekend, Arthur goes flying with Judge Rayford, a close acquaintance at the court. At the airport cafe, Rayford explains that Arthur should reconsider defending Fleming; otherwise, powerful connections might expose a single error from Arthur’s past involving a betrayal of client confidentiality that could result in Arthur’s disbarment. Heeding the warning, Arthur meets again with Fleming. He begins by requesting a retrial for Jeff McCullaugh. Fleming is annoyed by the demand, but seems more willing to help. Arthur questions Fleming about the rape accusation, brought by a young woman named Leah Shepard. Fleming admits that he had sex with her on two previous occasions and does not understand why she turned against him. After suggesting an angry boyfriend could be responsible, Arthur reminds him that Leah’s assault was too violent to be explained by an angry boyfriend. Although not permissible in court, Arthur requests that Fleming submit to a polygraph test because it will help in preparing the case. Reluctantly, Fleming agrees. Later at the Maryland Penitentiary, Arthur updates Jeff, who is emotionally fragile and unable to defend himself in jail, that his release is now forthcoming. After Ralph Agee is found guilty, Arthur arranges for a probation report, which he predicts will be favorable based on the defendant’s clean record, and the judge delays sentencing until the report is ready. When Ralph reiterates that he cannot go to prison, Arthur assures him not to worry. In a conversation with Frank Bowers, the prosecutor for the Fleming case, Arthur reveals that Fleming passed the polygraph and additional evidence indicates that the judge is innocent. Bowers replies that dropping the case now will only spark rumors of a political deal. He pushes Arthur against the wall and compares the importance of this case to the Super Bowl, vowing to “crucify” the judge. On the day of Ralph’s sentencing, Arthur is unable to be present and requests that Warren attend the hearing in his place. He gives Warren the probation report, asking him to inform the judge about errors in the report prior to sentencing. Preoccupied by more lucrative business, Warren is late for Ralph’s hearing and neglects to tell the judge about Arthur’s corrections. Subsequently, Ralph is sentenced to three years in prison. Later that evening, Arthur stops Warren as he is leaving the parking garage, smashes his car windows and screams that Ralph’s jail time could have been avoided. When Warren says he can appeal, Arthur cries out that Ralph committed suicide thirty minutes after being locked in the cell. During Fleming’s swimming workout, Arthur drops by to inform him that the District Attorney is going forward with the indictment. Arthur also pleads with him to make a simple ruling about the retrial of Jeff McCullaugh, who has been fighting for his life in prison while waiting on the judge’s decision, but Fleming is unsympathetic. As Arthur soon discovers, Jeff has reached a dangerous breaking point. At the Penitentiary’s clinic, he is holding two guards hostage while a SWAT team surrounds the facility. Arthur arrives to try and reason with him. When Jeff stands up to stretch his legs, a sniper fires through the window, shooting him dead. Arthur is devastated and runs through the streets of Baltimore to work through his frustration before arriving at his office. In front of the building, Carl Travers, a longtime client, is waiting. In appreciation for Arthur’s service over the years, he hands over evidence about Fleming’s sex life: salacious photographs of the judge and the head of the Ethics Committee in bed with a prostitute. Although the photographs are not related to the assault on Leah Shepard, Arthur confides in Gail that he now strongly believes that Fleming is guilty. She thinks he should continue with the case regardless of feelings about guilt or innocence because that is his role as a defense attorney. Arthur shows the photographs to Fleming who admits that he raped Leah Shepard. On the first day of the trial, Arthur proceeds as expected by challenging the prosecution in his opening statement. He tells the jury that the defense has all the supporting evidence to make a case of not guilty. Becoming increasingly agitated, Arthur surprises everyone in the courtroom when he declares that Leah Shepard is not lying about the rape and that Fleming should go straight to jail. Judge Rayford yells that he is out of order, and Arthur shouts back that the whole trial is out of order. Unhinged, Arthur continues to scream accusations at Fleming as officers remove him from the courtroom. Judge Rayford pounds his gavel and calls for order to no avail. Outside, Arthur sits on the courthouse steps in a stupor. +

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

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