Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Thursday,15 April '09: My verdict? American filmaking at its best
Another pleasant moment of the long weekend was viewing 'The Verdict' (1982) with the inimitable Paul Newman. Leone and I tasted her delicious beef casserole and sipped our glasses of fruity dry white in silence, eyes fixed to the screen. Both of us had seen the movie years before; both us had long forgotten the twists and turns of the plot. What do you remember?
Paul Newman plays a down and out lawyer, divorced, disillusioned and hitting the bottle far too often. The only case he has is almost impossible to win. He resists being fobbed off with a generous out of court settlement. Instead, in the interests of honour and right, he risks the court and the verdict of a jury and takes on the combined powers of the Church, an illustrious law firm and a biased judge. Charlotte Rampling plays Jezebel to Newman's jaded Galahad. She is sloe-eyed, wan, desperate and unscrupulous. Was there a feminist outcry in 1982 when an outraged and betrayed Paul Newman struck her through the face, throwing her to the floor and drawing blood? I cannot remember.
The genius of the movie is that it is restrained; the courtroom interactions are understated. And the director, thank goodness, resists the temptation of providing a glib, happy ending. Now this is what I call American filmaking at its best!