Paul Newman in The Verdict

My Favorite Scene: The Verdict (1982) “Frank’s Closing Statement”

Courtroom dramas and great closing arguments have been a staple of cinema since the addition of words.  It’s probably the best forum for monologues in a picture, and it gives an actor a chance to do a bit of stage acting for the camera. (Click here for my Top 10 Courtroom Scenes of All-Time)  One of the very best closing arguments comes from 1982’s The Verdict which paired possibly the greatest actor of all-time (my favorite) in Paul Newman with one of the greatest directors of all-time in Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Network), and one of the greatest screen and stage writers of all-time in David Mamet.

Newman always brought an honest conviction to whatever role he played, be it Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler, Butch Cassiday, or alcoholic lawyer Frank Galvin in The Verdict.  His closing in The Verdict isn’t long at all (by that point in the trial Galvin knew it didn’t need to be).  It’s simple, powerful and effective.  Without being hokey or cornball it lays out the hope we all have for our justice system: that at the end of the day, honest people embody the law and do right by it and those on trial.  We live in cynical times, and it’s hard to act as if we have faith still in the system.  Maybe we shouldn’t.  But listening to Newman orate, you want to still believe.  In a career of over 50 years of powerful performances, this is just a page in Newman’s portfolio, but it’s a great one.

Paul Newman in The Verdict

4 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: The Verdict (1982) “Frank’s Closing Statement””

  1. Did people ever have faith in the system? I don’t know, my time here only stretches back so far. The thing that scares me about our current age is the willful apathy of so many people, the blind acceptance that the system is broken and will never get better, so we might as well elect (insert the name of any random sociopath here) because at least he’s competent enough to be on the ticket.

    I wonder how The Verdict, much less a film like 12 Angry Men, would play today. I really wonder.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think your faith in the system depends a lot on who you are, where you live, and when you lived, but I think there was a generally accepted ideal that it worked at one time. That sentiment was dead by the time I was a teenager, but I do think it did exist. I don’t know how they’d play today. Lumet was a visionary director (Network was prophecy), but also very much in touch with the times in which he lived. I think he’d still be making pictures that stuck in people’s minds today but they would have a different sentiment. Newman’s resume is so stellar, this often gets forgotten among his many Oscar losses, but it’s one of my favorite performances from Paul.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If you have not seen it, seek out a little film of his called Sometimes A Great Notion. There is an alternate title I’m forgetting.

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  2. If you lose all faith, then you lose the will to do your part, no matter how small. We all have the power to make a difference in our small worlds and our small worlds make up the larger world! Isn’t this the point of the movie? Each person, no matter how imperfect, can decide to do the right thing and make a difference. I LOVE this movie and I LOVE Paul Newman. BTW…I have bought his pizza, dog treats and salad dressing since they first hit the market…all profits to charity!

    Liked by 1 person

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