The popular culture of American law has never played a larger role than it does today in shaping the way we think about lawyers and the legal system. Our very definition of justice is now inseparable from motion picture and television images and popular legal narratives, from Hollywood westerns and O. J. Simpson to "Law and Order" and John Grisham. Through its exploration of the "legal" film genre, Movies on Trial is an illuminating and entertaining examination of the interrelationship between law and film. While the dramatic possibilities of the courtroom scene have long been familiar to moviegoers, beyond that trope our culture relies upon a concept of the law drawn from images presented on the silver screen. Law professor and movie aficionado Anthony Chase focuses on how movies fit into our history, our politics and, particularly, our legal values and assumptions.
An absorbing and unexpected analysis of the way popular films influence our view of the law. The popular culture of American law has never played a larger role than it does today in shaping the way we think about lawyers and the legal system. Our very definition of justice is now inseparable from motion picture and television images and popular legal narratives, from Hollywood westerns and O. J. Simpson to Law and Order
and John Grisham. In Movies on Trial
, law professor and movie aficionado Anthony Chase sorts out some of the complex and often contradictory notions Americans have about the legal system. He uses movies to investigate and inventory many of our deepest beliefs about law and politics, and provides a strong historical and intellectual context throughout. Analyzing Dirty Harry
and True Believer
for their commentary on the Miranda ruling and criminal procedure, and explaining tort law via The Verdict
and A Civil Action
, Chase also employs Three Kings
to reveal changes in international law and The Rise to Power of Louis XIV
to explore the rise of the modern state. Through the lens of film, he is able to describe and analyze the symbiosis between the image of law and its actual practice in our cultural imagination, in a genuinely illuminating and entertaining book.
Movies discussed include: All the President's Men • Anatomy of a Murder • Ben and Me • A Civil Action • Dirty Harry • Erin Brockovich • Fight Club • The Gingerbread Man • Heart of Glass • Italy: Year One • Johnny Tremain • Judgment at Nuremberg • A Man for All Seasons • The Marriage of Maria Braun • The Parallax View • The Rainmaker • Revolution • The Rise to Power of Louis XIV • Silkwood • Three Kings • Touch of Evil • Traffic/Traffik • True Believer • The Verdict • Wilson • Young Mr. Lincoln