To Kill a Mockingbird, Gregory Peck, Atticus Finch, Harper Lee

Top 10: Courtroom Scenes in Movie History

Tom Cruise, A Few Good Men

There’s something about a courtroom showdown that makes for great cinema.  It’s an opportunity for an actor to monologue, to almost stage perform, or in the case of, say, A Few Good Men, it’s a showcase for two iconic actors to go at each other full bore.  In all it’s iteration over the years, cinematic legal showdowns have given us some of the best scenes of all-time.  I’ve narrowed it down to my top ten.
1. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) “Atticus Finch’s Closing Arguments”

2. A Few Good Men (1992) “You Can’t Handle the Truth!”

3. The Verdict (1982) “Today, You Are the Law”

4. Amistad (1997) “Adams Before the Supreme Court”

5. A Miracle on 34th Street (1947)  “The One and Only Santa Claus”

6. Scent of a Woman (1992) “Colonel Slade Defends Charlie”

7. A Time to Kill (1996) “I’m Going to Tell You a Story”

8. And Justice For All (1979) “This Whole Courtroom’s Out of Order!”

9. Anatomy of a Murder (1959) “Let Me Cut Into the Apple”

10. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) “Were You a Failure?

Honorable Mention: My Cousin Vinny (1992) “The Best Expert Witness…EVER”

3 thoughts on “Top 10: Courtroom Scenes in Movie History”

  1. Good choices! Although when it comes to My Cousin Vinny I would place the scene concerning the grits alongside the one you spotlighted.

    Also, THE classic Three Stooges short, “Disorder in the Court,” belongs on any list (I’m pretty sure it would qualify as one scene, and yes, I am an enormous fan of the Stooges). Also, the courtroom parody scene in Kentucky Fried Movie is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and if you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself. That’s as long as you’re an Airplane! and Naked Gun kind of guy. A lot of people aren’t, and that’s OK. It just means there’s something wrong with you sense of humor.

      1. How about the Captain Sternn segment from Heavy Metal?

        I know, I know, I’m thinking outside the box here.

        They’re planning to reboot Perry Mason as a film series. Which is weird, because the show never told you anything about the character. At all. A film called “Perry Mason,” starring a new actor, might as well be about any lawyer in the world. But it strikes me that every single one of the episodes from that old show ended with a character breaking down on the stand and admitting to a crime. Back in the day, people accepted weirdly repetitious storytelling in their TV shows.

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