Film Collection at the Law Library

The film collection at the law library includes movies about law students, law professors, courtroom dramas and even the occasional comedy about the law. The law library film collection is located behind the circulation desk on the 5th floor of the law library. Check out is for three days. If you are looking for a particular film title and want to know if it is in our collection, check Madcat, our library catalog. Madcat is located on the Law Library Home page. You can also browse the video collection by selecting Legal Resource Guides located at the Law Library home page. Videos are located under the heading Law-Related Videos. You can browse alphabetically by title. A few classic films about law students and new lawyers include the Paper Chase, the Pelican Brief and the Rainmaker. A movie synopsis about these films is included in this article. All movie synopsis are from and can be located at THE PAPER CHASE - drama - 1973 Hart (Timothy Bottoms) is a Harvard Law School freshman whose problems are intensified when he falls in love with the daughter (Lindsay Wagner) of a tyrannical professor, played to the hilt by John Houseman. Based on the novel by John Jay Osborn Jr., THE PAPER CHASE follows the progression of a group of freshman struggling to stay afloat in a world of high pressure and immense competition, where top grades seem to be the difference between life and death. Hart is a slightly naive but bright midwesterner who must prove himself in the arena of Professor Kingsfield's (Houseman) brilliant but cruel classroom. Hart becomes obsessed with excelling in Kingsfield's class, pushing himself to the brink until he meets Susan (Wagner) and falls in love with her only to discover that she is Kingsfield's daughter. As Hart becomes more involved with Susan, he begins to question whether he really wants to become part of the system Harvard's preparing him for. The film is a dazzlingly authentic and moving depiction of the trials and tribulations of law school, brought to life by the breathtaking performance of legendary actor John Houseman in an Oscar-winning performance. Directed enthusiastically by James Bridges, THE PAPER CHASE is one of the greatest renderings of education ever captured on film. THE PELICAN BRIEF - drama - 1993 Julia Roberts (ERIN BROCKOVICH) stars in THE PELICAN BRIEF as sharp law student Darby Shaw whose querying mind gets her into trouble. A faithful adaptation of John Grisham's (THE FIRM) best-selling novel, this taut thriller follows the travails that beset Shaw when her theory on the cause of the deaths of two Supreme Court Justices lands her name on the conspirators' hit list. When Shaw teams up with reporter Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington--THE HURRICANE) they find themselves dodging deadly assassins in a suspenseful story that weaves complex narrative strands. The well-cast film also features a cameo by playwright-actor Sam Shepard (TRUE WEST). THE RAINMAKER - drama - 1997 John Grisham's novel comes to life in Francis Ford Coppola's courtroom drama pitting the little guy against a large corporation. Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon), an inexperienced Memphis lawyer, and his legal sidekick, Deck Schifflet (Danny DeVito), defend a leukemia victim against an insurance company and its hotshot lawyer Leo Drummond (Jon Voight). Along the way Rudy befriends an abused woman (Claire Danes), helping her escape her husband (Andrew Shue). The courtroom scenes between Damon and Voight are the highlight of this legal yarn as Rudy learns the tough price of being a good lawyer. TRUE COLORS - drama- 1991 This riveting portrait of political society and scandal in highbrow Washington, DC, stars James Spader as Tim Garrity, a socially responsible young man from the upper-middle classes who is engaged to the daughter of the influential and powerful Senator Stiles (Richard Widmark); and John Cusack as Peter Burton, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks with ambition to burn. Both are enrolled at the University of Virginia Law School in 1983. They become roommates and friends quite by accident, and differences in their individual pursuits in politics drive them apart. Taking the Reagan-era credo of greed to heart, Burton ruthlessly claws his way up the political ladder in his effort to get elected to Congress. In the process, he betrays Garrity by stealing his fiancée (Imogen Stubbs) and then becomes involved in shady dealings with a corrupt businessman (Mandy Patinkin). Garrity, principled but passive, stands by while Burton chews up and spits out everyone and everything in his path--until Burton turns on Senator Stiles, forcing Garrity to finally take action against his friend. LEGALLY BLONDE - comedy - 2001 Blonde is the story of a young woman who is dumped when her boyfriend decides to go to law school at Harvard and thinks he needs to find a girlfriend who is more acceptable for his new status. Determined to show him that she has brains and not just looks, she starts law school too and is eventually called on to represent a Beverly Hills murder suspect. MY COUSIN VINNY - comedy - 1992 A couple of kids, Bill (Ralph Macchio) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield), get mistaken for murder suspects, so they call in their cousin Vinny to be their lawyer. The problem is that he's only been practicing for six weeks.

Submitted by Jenny Zook, Reference Librarian on September 14, 2006

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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