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An Annotated List of Law-Related Films

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

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since August 17, 2001

Last added to on 06/19/09

Films listed below are "law-related", either because they feature courtroom scenes or because they feature law/jurisprudence subject matter. For each film I give a list of areas of law touched on by the film. Films are organized by subject. Sorry, you will still have to watch the film to see if it is relevant for your research or teaching purposes. If available I have also listed supplemental resources, such as books on which the film is based. Note that you can also find suitable films and tv episodes by scanning the ever increasing literature on law and film and law and popular culture. Good sources for citations include the Index to Legal Periodicals, the Current Law Index, the Current Index to Legal Periodicals, the Modern Language Association Bibliography and books such as my International Guide to Law and Literature Studies, which despite the title includes many citations to movies and television. Good sources for movies and tv on video include the Internet Movie Database. See also Marlyn Robinson's Building a Law-Related Video Collection.

This is a work in progress (translate: I work on it when I have some free time). Please send suggestions for additional index terms including the films or television episodes for which they are appropriate to Christine Corcos,  or call 225/578-8327. Thank you.

Index Terms

 

Bias

Capital Punishment

Defamation

Department of Justice Investigative Procedures

Double Jeopardy

Environmental Law

Evidence

Felony Murder

In House Counsel

Juries

Legal Ethics

Manslaughter

Military Justice

Murder

Murder for Hire

Murder for Profit (useful when discussing exceptional circumstances and justification for seeking the death penalty)

Serial Murder

Perjury

Rape

Self Defense

Serial Murder. See under Murder.

Standards for Appellate Review

Statute of Limitations

Uxoricide

Whistle Blowing

Bias

Twelve Angry Men (1957); television remake 1997. Also has been adapted for the stage as Twelve Angry Women. Twelve jurors attempt to resolve the fate of a defendant accused of murdering his father. At the beginning of the film, the vote is 11 to 1 for conviction, but one juror convinces the others to reconsider by reconstructing the crime.

Capital Punishment

I Want to Live! (1958). Docudrama about Barbara Graham (played by Susan Hayward), convicted of felony murder and executed. Remade in 1983 with Lindsay Wagner as Graham.

The Life of David Gale (2003). Kevin Spacey is an anti-capital punishment activist convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

10 Rillington Place (1971). Richard Attenborough is murderer John Christie who botches an abortion on his tenant, murders her daughter and disposes of the bodies. The husband of the dead woman is tried, convicted and executed for the murder. The outcry over Christie's later conviction for the same crimes led to a posthumous pardon for the husband. 

Defamation

Absence of Malice (1981). Sally Field as a Miami journalist and Paul Newman as the son of a mobster. Features defamation lawsuit by Newman against Field's newspaper. 

Department of Justice Investigative Procedures

Absence of Malice (). Sally Field as a Miami journalist and Paul Newman as the son of a mobster. Features defamation lawsuit by Newman against Field's newspaper. 

Double Jeopardy

Fatal Vision (TVM 1984). The trial of Captain Jeffrey MacDonald for the murder of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. In the film MacDonald claimed that unknown intruders invaded his home, attacked him and committed the murders. (Compare with The Sam Sheppard Murder Case for the "bushy haired stranger" defense, which was dramatized as well in the television series The Fugitive, later a film with Harrison Ford). Contract lawyers will be interested in the fact that MacDonald sued Jeffrey McGinniss, author of the book on which the film is based, for breach of contract. See MacDonald vs. McGinniss, CV-84-6170(WJR)(MCX)(U.S. District Court, Central District of California, filed August 31, 1984).

Environmental Law

A Civil Action

Evidence

Fatal Vision (TVM 1984). The trial of Captain Jeffrey MacDonald for the murder of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. In the film MacDonald claimed that some strangers and hippies invaded his home, attacked him and committed the murders. (see The Sam Sheppard Murder Case for the origin of the "bushy haired stranger" defense, which was dramatized as well in the television series The Fugitive. Contract lawyers will be interested in the fact that MacDonald sued Jeffrey McGinnis, author of the book on which the film is based, for breach of contract. See MacDonald vs. McGinniss, CV-84-6170(WJR)(MCX)(U.S. District Court, Central District of California, filed August 31, 1984).

Felony Murder

I Want to Live! (1958). Docudrama about Barbara Graham (played by Susan Hayward), convicted of felony murder and executed. Remade in 1983 with Lindsay Wagner as Graham. The major issues discussed in the film are the justification for capital punishment, particularly of a woman, and the justification for a death sentence in a case of felony murder.

In House Counsel

The Insider (1999).

Juries

Twelve Angry Men (1957); television remake 1997. Also has been adapted for the stage as Twelve Angry Women. Twelve jurors attempt to resolve the fate of a defendant accused of murdering his father. At the beginning of the film, the vote is 11 to 1 for conviction, but one juror convinces the others to reconsider by reconstructing the crime.

Legal Ethics

Anatomy of a Murder (1959). Otto Preminger directed this courtroom drama about an Army officer accused of murdering his wife's attacker. Starring Jimmy Stewart as lawyer Paul Biegler, Arthur O'Connell as Parnell MacCarthy, Ben Gazzara as Lt. Frederick Manion, Lee Remick as Laura Manion, Joseph Welch as the judge.

Manslaughter

10 Rillington Place (). Richard Attenborough is murderer John Christie who botches an abortion on his tenant, murders her daughter and disposes of the bodies. The husband of the dead woman is tried, convicted and executed for the murder. The outcry over Christie's later conviction for the same crimes led to a posthumous pardon for the husband. 

Military Justice

Fatal Vision (TVM 1984). The trial of Captain Jeffrey MacDonald for the murder of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. In the film MacDonald claimed that some strangers and hippies invaded his home, attacked him and committed the murders. (see The Sam Sheppard Murder Case for the origin of the "bushy haired stranger" defense, which was dramatized as well in the television series The Fugitive. Contract lawyers will be interested in the fact that MacDonald sued Jeffrey McGinnis, author of the book on which the film is based, for breach of contract. See MacDonald vs. McGinniss, CV-84-6170(WJR)(MCX)(U.S. District Court, Central District of California, filed August 31, 1984).

Murder

Anatomy of a Murder (1959). Otto Preminger directed this courtroom drama about an Army officer accused of murdering his wife's attacker. Starring Jimmy Stewart as lawyer Paul Biegler, Arthur O'Connell as Parnell MacCarthy, Ben Gazzara as Lt. Frederick Manion, Lee Remick as Laura Manion, Joseph Welch as the judge.

Blind Faith (TVM ). Robert Urich as insurance salesman Robert Marshall who hires a hit man to kill his wife in order 1) collect the life insurance on her and 2) marry his mistress. Based on a true story. Featured: scene in which Urich tries to suborn the perjury of one son in order to discredit the testimony of the hit man. 

Fatal Vision (TVM 1984). The trial of Captain Jeffrey MacDonald for the murder of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. In the film MacDonald claimed that some strangers and hippies invaded his home, attacked him and committed the murders. (see The Sam Sheppard Murder Case for the origin of the "bushy haired stranger" defense, which was dramatized as well in the television series The Fugitive. Contract lawyers will be interested in the fact that MacDonald sued Jeffrey McGinnis, author of the book on which the film is based, for breach of contract. See MacDonald vs. McGinniss, CV-84-6170(WJR)(MCX)(U.S. District Court, Central District of California, filed August 31, 1984).

I Want to Live! (1958). Docudrama about Barbara Graham (played by Susan Hayward), convicted of felony murder and executed. Remade in 1983 with Lindsay Wagner as Graham.

The Life of David Gale (2003). Kevin Spacey is an anti-capital punishment activist convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

10 Rillington Place (). Richard Attenborough is murderer John Christie who botches an abortion on his tenant, murders her daughter and disposes of the bodies. The husband of the dead woman is tried, convicted and executed for the murder. The outcry over Christie's later conviction for the same crimes led to a posthumous pardon for the husband. 

Murder for Hire

Blind Faith (TVM ). Robert Urich as insurance salesman Robert Marshall who hires a hit man to kill his wife in order 1) collect the life insurance on her and 2) marry his mistress. Based on a true story. Featured: scene in which Urich tries to suborn the perjury of one son in order to discredit the testimony of the hit man. 

Murder for Profit

Blind Faith (TVM ). Robert Urich as insurance salesman Robert Marshall who hires a hit man to kill his wife in order 1) collect the life insurance on her and 2) marry his mistress. Based on a true story. Featured: scene in which Urich tries to suborn the perjury of one son in order to discredit the testimony of the hit man. 

Perjury (including subornation of perjury)

Blind Faith (TVM ). Robert Urich as insurance salesman Robert Marshall who hires a hit man to kill his wife in order 1) collect the life insurance on her and 2) marry his mistress. Based on a true story. Featured: scene in which Urich tries to suborn the perjury of one son in order to discredit the testimony of the hit man. 

10 Rillington Place (). Richard Attenborough is murderer John Christie who botches an abortion on his tenant, murders her daughter and disposes of the bodies. The husband of the dead woman is tried, convicted and executed for the murder. The outcry over Christie's later conviction for the same crimes led to a posthumous pardon for the husband. 

Rape

Anatomy of a Murder (1959). Otto Preminger directed this courtroom drama about an Army officer accused of murdering his wife's attacker. Starring Jimmy Stewart as lawyer Paul Biegler, Arthur O'Connell as Parnell MacCarthy, Ben Gazzara as Lt. Frederick Manion, Lee Remick as Laura Manion, Joseph Welch as the judge.

The Life of David Gale (2003). Kevin Spacey is an anti-capital punishment activist convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Self Defense

Anatomy of a Murder (1959). Otto Preminger directed this courtroom drama about an Army officer accused of murdering his wife's attacker. Starring Jimmy Stewart as lawyer Paul Biegler, Arthur O'Connell as Parnell MacCarthy, Ben Gazzara as Lt. Frederick Manion, Lee Remick as Laura Manion, Joseph Welch as the judge.

Serial Murder

10 Rillington Place (). Richard Attenborough is murderer John Christie who botches an abortion on his tenant, murders her daughter and disposes of the bodies. The husband of the dead woman is tried, convicted and executed for the murder. The outcry over Christie's later conviction for the same crimes led to a posthumous pardon for the husband. 

Standards for Appellate Review

Fatal Vision (TVM 1984). The trial of Captain Jeffrey MacDonald for the murder of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. In the film MacDonald claimed that some strangers and hippies invaded his home, attacked him and committed the murders. (see The Sam Sheppard Murder Case for the origin of the "bushy haired stranger" defense, which was dramatized as well in the television series The Fugitive. Contract lawyers will be interested in the fact that MacDonald sued Jeffrey McGinnis, author of the book on which the film is based, for breach of contract. See MacDonald vs. McGinniss, CV-84-6170(WJR)(MCX)(U.S. District Court, Central District of California, filed August 31, 1984).

Statute of Limitations

Fatal Vision (TVM 1984). The trial of Captain Jeffrey MacDonald for the murder of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. In the film MacDonald claimed that some strangers and hippies invaded his home, attacked him and committed the murders. (see The Sam Sheppard Murder Case for the origin of the "bushy haired stranger" defense, which was dramatized as well in the television series The Fugitive. Contract lawyers will be interested in the fact that MacDonald sued Jeffrey McGinnis, author of the book on which the film is based, for breach of contract. See MacDonald vs. McGinniss, CV-84-6170(WJR)(MCX)(U.S. District Court, Central District of California, filed August 31, 1984).

Uxoricide

10 Rillington Place (). Richard Attenborough is murderer John Christie who botches an abortion on his tenant, murders her daughter and disposes of the bodies. The husband of the dead woman is tried, convicted and executed for the murder. The outcry over Christie's later conviction for the same crimes led to a posthumous pardon for the husband. 

Whistle Blowing

The Insider (1999).

 




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