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HISTORY

According to production notes in AMPAS library files, principal photography began in Dec 1989 and was completed in Feb 1990, only months after the 17 Oct 1989 earthquake that devastated much of the San Francisco Bay area. Producer Scott Kroopf, credited with choosing the location, noted that the city’s diverse neighborhoods emphasized the contrasts between its “conservative old-money aspects” and “bohemian elements.” During the rehearsal period prior to filming, the cast observed actual courtroom trials. In addition, technical and legal advisor Richard Zitrin revised the screenplay for accuracy, which actor Gene Hackman jokingly referred to as “Zitrinizing.” Locations included Mission Dolores, the Beach Chalet, the San Francisco Art Institute, a Craftsman-style house in Berkeley, CA, a mansion in Atherton, CA, a ranch in Marin County, CA, and the law offices of J. Tony Serra. Sets within San Francisco City Hall included the court and chambers of Judge John Dearman, and the Supervisors Chambers. The penthouse suites at 75 Hawthorne Place served as corporate law offices, and the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, doubled as the headquarter of “Argo Motors.”
       The 18 Dec 1989 DV reported that San Francisco mayor Art Agnos made a cameo appearance in the funeral scene. A news item in the 6 Jun 1989 HR stated that director Michael Apted considered actor Sean Connery as his "first choice" for the role of "Jedediah Tucker Ward."
       End credits include the following statements: “Murals from: San Francisco Scenes by Lucien Labaudt; Beach Chalet, property of the Recreation and Park Department, city and county of San Francisco”; “Estelle’s artwork by Juana Alicia”; “Special thanks ... More Less

According to production notes in AMPAS library files, principal photography began in Dec 1989 and was completed in Feb 1990, only months after the 17 Oct 1989 earthquake that devastated much of the San Francisco Bay area. Producer Scott Kroopf, credited with choosing the location, noted that the city’s diverse neighborhoods emphasized the contrasts between its “conservative old-money aspects” and “bohemian elements.” During the rehearsal period prior to filming, the cast observed actual courtroom trials. In addition, technical and legal advisor Richard Zitrin revised the screenplay for accuracy, which actor Gene Hackman jokingly referred to as “Zitrinizing.” Locations included Mission Dolores, the Beach Chalet, the San Francisco Art Institute, a Craftsman-style house in Berkeley, CA, a mansion in Atherton, CA, a ranch in Marin County, CA, and the law offices of J. Tony Serra. Sets within San Francisco City Hall included the court and chambers of Judge John Dearman, and the Supervisors Chambers. The penthouse suites at 75 Hawthorne Place served as corporate law offices, and the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, doubled as the headquarter of “Argo Motors.”
       The 18 Dec 1989 DV reported that San Francisco mayor Art Agnos made a cameo appearance in the funeral scene. A news item in the 6 Jun 1989 HR stated that director Michael Apted considered actor Sean Connery as his "first choice" for the role of "Jedediah Tucker Ward."
       End credits include the following statements: “Murals from: San Francisco Scenes by Lucien Labaudt; Beach Chalet, property of the Recreation and Park Department, city and county of San Francisco”; “Estelle’s artwork by Juana Alicia”; “Special thanks to: Mayor Art Agnos, Harry Britt, Angelo Alioto, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, John Taylor, Robin Eickman, David R. Mayer, Judge John Dearman, Judge Robert L. Dossee”; and, “Filmed entirely on location in San Francisco, California.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
14 Dec 1989.
---
Daily Variety
18 Dec 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 1991
p. 8, 52.
Los Angeles Times
15 Mar 1991
p. 4.
New York Times
15 Mar 1991
p. 20.
Variety
11 Mar 1991
p. 61.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
an Interscope Communications production
a Michael Apted film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Elec best boy
2d asst cam
Grip best boy
Dolly grip
Rigging grip
Still photog
Cranes and dollies by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Lead person
Prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Lead carpenter
Lead painter
Asst props
Asst props
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
COSTUMES
Cost des
Selected ward for Ms. Mastrantonio by
Asst to cost des
Women's costumer
Men's costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus comp by
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Musician
Musician
Musician
Musician
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv dial ed
Dubbing mixer
Boom op
Sd utility
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
ADR mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Asst spec eff
Title des by
Titles and opticals by
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Head makeup
Head hair stylist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Key hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Tech/Legal adv
Asst to Mr. Apted/Post prod coord
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to Mr. Kroopf
Asst to Mr. Cort
Prod assoc
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Asst loc mgr
Loc scout
Loc asst
Loc asst
Loc asst
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Casting asst
San Francisco casting
Atmosphere casting
Atmosphere casting
Caterer
Caterer
Unit pub
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Can't Fight Fate," written by Diane Warren, performed by Taylor Dayne, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"Up, Up, Up" and "Canned Music," written by Dan Hicks, performed by Dan Hicks and the Acoustic Warriors with the Lickettes
"Home Going," written by Reverend Cleopheus Robinson, performed by Emmit Powell Gospel Elites
+
SONGS
"Can't Fight Fate," written by Diane Warren, performed by Taylor Dayne, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"Up, Up, Up" and "Canned Music," written by Dan Hicks, performed by Dan Hicks and the Acoustic Warriors with the Lickettes
"Home Going," written by Reverend Cleopheus Robinson, performed by Emmit Powell Gospel Elites
"If You Don't Know Me By Now," written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, performed by Simply Red, courtesy of Elektra Entertainment/WEA Records Ltd., by arrangement with Warner Special Products.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 March 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 15 March 1991
New York opening: week of 15 March 1991
Production Date:
December 1989--February 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
12 March 1991
Copyright Number:
PA507105
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30336
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a San Francisco, California, courtroom, attorney Jedediah Tucker Ward argues for the defense in a case of vandalism against an environmentally irresponsible corporation. The cheers of Jedediah’s supporters are audible in the adjacent courtroom, where his daughter, Maggie Ward, defends a large corporation against an individual. Afterward, the two attorneys meet in an elevator, but few words are exchanged. Jedediah returns to his law office, where he interviews Steven Kellen, who lost his family and his ability to walk following the explosion of his Argo Meridian station wagon. At the law offices of Quinn, Callifan & Lunt, partner Michael Grazier apprises Maggie of a class action suit against Argo Motors, in which plaintiffs allege that the car may explode during a rear-end collision when the left turn signal is engaged. Michael assures her that the suit is without merit, based on his long relationship with Argo. However, when Maggie expresses interest in defending Argo, Michael informs her that Jedediah is representing the plaintiffs. Regardless, Maggie accepts the assignment, certain that it will earn her a partnership in the firm. Meanwhile, Jedediah’s associate, Nick Holbrook, agrees that the case is weak, as only 132 Meridian owners have brought suit. Jedediah is undaunted, believing he can win. Later, while spending the night with Michael Grazier, Maggie explains that she prefers to keep their affair secret until she is promoted, as proof that she is able to advance in the firm on her own merits. The next evening, at Jedediah’s anniversary party, he declines a request from his wife, Estelle, that he and Maggie dance together, then dismisses his daughter’s ... +


In a San Francisco, California, courtroom, attorney Jedediah Tucker Ward argues for the defense in a case of vandalism against an environmentally irresponsible corporation. The cheers of Jedediah’s supporters are audible in the adjacent courtroom, where his daughter, Maggie Ward, defends a large corporation against an individual. Afterward, the two attorneys meet in an elevator, but few words are exchanged. Jedediah returns to his law office, where he interviews Steven Kellen, who lost his family and his ability to walk following the explosion of his Argo Meridian station wagon. At the law offices of Quinn, Callifan & Lunt, partner Michael Grazier apprises Maggie of a class action suit against Argo Motors, in which plaintiffs allege that the car may explode during a rear-end collision when the left turn signal is engaged. Michael assures her that the suit is without merit, based on his long relationship with Argo. However, when Maggie expresses interest in defending Argo, Michael informs her that Jedediah is representing the plaintiffs. Regardless, Maggie accepts the assignment, certain that it will earn her a partnership in the firm. Meanwhile, Jedediah’s associate, Nick Holbrook, agrees that the case is weak, as only 132 Meridian owners have brought suit. Jedediah is undaunted, believing he can win. Later, while spending the night with Michael Grazier, Maggie explains that she prefers to keep their affair secret until she is promoted, as proof that she is able to advance in the firm on her own merits. The next evening, at Jedediah’s anniversary party, he declines a request from his wife, Estelle, that he and Maggie dance together, then dismisses his daughter’s assignment to the Argo suit as “a legal trick.” Maggie accuses Jedediah of disrespecting her and storms out of the restaurant. Estelle is upset by the exchange and begs Jedediah to stop alienating their daughter. The next day, Maggie refuses Estelle’s plea to recuse herself from the case, and reveals the grudge she holds toward her father for his extramarital affairs, even though Estelle has forgiven him. At a preliminary hearing, Jedediah further antagonizes Maggie by embarrassing her during a legal argument. As they leave the courthouse, Estelle voices her exasperation with her daughter, then dies suddenly of an arterial embolism. During the funeral reception, Jedediah recalls meeting Estelle when she was a young political activist. Nick Holbrook comforts Maggie, and advises her to stay with Jedediah. Sometime later, Maggie accompanies Michael Grazier to Argo Motors’ Research and Development Center, where Dr. George Getchell assures them that the Meridian is “the safest car on the road.” Maggie joins her father for dinner that evening and they reminisce about Estelle. However, as they browse through old photographs, Maggie is reminded of Jedediah’s affair with Estelle’s closest friend, and berates her father for his betrayal. She also reminds him of a disgruntled airline employee, whose life Jedediah ruined by bringing him to national prominence. Maggies denounces her father’s hypocrisy, and says that Estelle is better off dead than married to him. Jedediah orders Maggie from the house, and she returns to her home to find Michael Grazier waiting outside. In the morning, Maggie’s boss, Fred Quinn, orders her to discredit Steven Kellen during his depostion. She proceeds to outrage both the witness and Jedediah by blaming the fatal accident on Steven’s tendency to drive below the speed limit. Afterward, Fred Quinn warns Jedediah that all prosecution witnesses will receive the same ruthless treatment. That evening, Maggie sits in a bar, wracked with guilt over her performance, and identifies herself to the bartender as “a hired killer.” Both law firms discover a letter among the evidence submitted by Argo, in which the company’s chief executive officer commends Dr. Getchell on silencing engineer Alexander Pavel, who identified a defect in the Meridian. Maggie interviews Pavel at his rabbit farm outside the city, and he confirms that a faulty turn signal circuit could result in an explosion upon impact. Although Pavel’s original report has vanished, Maggie finds proof of the defect among the engineer’s notes in company archives. After photocopying the notes and locking them in her desk, Maggie advises Michael Grazier to settle with the plaintiffs. She notifies Dr. Getchell of her discovery, and he reveals that Michael instructed him to ignore Pavel’s report. Maggie confronts Michael, who admits to a lapse in judgment, then suggests destroying the evidence. Maggie realizes that Michael assigned her the case to protect himself, knowing that he could ruin her career if she discloses his error. Intent on protecting his firm, Fred Quinn decides to overwhelm the prosecution by shipping all of Argo’s archived files to Jedediah’s office, and misfiling Pavel’s incriminating notes. When Maggie asks Dr. Getchell why the defect was not corrected, she is shocked to learn that it was simply more cost-efficient to settle the few anticipated lawsuits than to repair 175,000 cars. Upon returning to her office, Maggie discovers that Pavel’s notes have been removed from her desk. She informs Quinn, who plans to fire Michael Grazier and offer her a partnership if she overlooks the ethical breach. That evening, she develops empathy for Jedediah after he admits to facing moral dilemmas similar to her own. The next day, Maggie demonstrates her loyalty to the firm by discrediting Alexander Pavel’s testimony. Jedediah retaliates by cross-examing Michael Grazier, who swears he had no prior knowledge of the Meridian’s defective circuitry. The prosecution calls Anthony Patricola to the witness stand. He is the Argo risk management expert who created the cost analysis based on Pavel’s safety report. Quinn demands a conference in Judge Symes’s chambers, and threatens to end Maggie’s career for giving her father privileged information. Jedediah argues that Michael willingly destroyed evidence, and Maggie fulfilled her legal obligation to provide a corroborating witness. Realizing his firm’s reputation has been compromised, he offers to settle the case. That evening, Maggie joins Jedediah and his associates as they celebrate the $100 million settlement. Reminding her father of Estelle’s request weeks earlier, Maggie and Jedediah dance together. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.