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Presumed Innocent
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  • Was justice served? Is anyone truly innocent? *Spoilers*
    These are the issues that are explored in this film, directed by Alan J. Pakula, adapted from the best selling novel by Scott Turow. It is the story of chief deputy prosecutor Rozat "Rusty" Sabich (Ford) in the fictional Kindle County, whose seemingly normal life is shattered by the murder of a female colleague, Carolyn Polhemus (Scacchi). A colleague with whom he had previously engaged in an affair and whom he had stalked when she had broken off the affair.

    Any illusions you may have about the integrity of the criminal justice system (in this fictional world) are swept away quickly. Sabich is coerced into heading the investigation of Polhemus' murder by his boss, prosecuting attorney Raymond Horgan (Dennehy). That is, until Horgan loses his reelection campaign and new prosecuting attorney Nico Della Guardia (Mardirosian) and his second whip Tommy Molto (Grifasi) charge him with Polhemus' murder.

    One of the great aspects of this movie is that Sabich, while heading the murder investigation, seems very conflicted about his previous encounters with Polhemus, who we only see in flashback sequences during the film. We don't know if this is because of his emotional and sexual connection to Polhemus, or because he is the murderer himself. Suspicions are raised concerning Sabich's guilt throughout the first third of the movie, e.g., his obstruction of his lead investigator Detective Lipranzer (Spencer) by ignoring fingerprint evidence. This becomes ammunition against him later when he becomes the defendant.

    Sabich's wife Barbara (Bedelia) throws gasoline on the fire by constantly nettling Rusty about the previous affair, and, most important, Rusty's obsession with Polhemus which even her death could not end. Barbara tries to reconnect to Rusty during the movie, but it is clear that he deeply hurt her by the affair, and Rusty knows that he has a lot to atone for.

    The net starts closing around Sabich fairly quickly in the second third of the movie. Everyone except Lipranzer is ready and willing to believe that Sabich is the murderer. Luckily, Sabich hires former adversary Sandy Stern (Julia) to defend him. Stern is an outstanding defense attorney, and his instincts eventually lead to a winning strategy that results in the dismissal of charges against Sabich. But, as Stern asks Sabich later in the film "was justice done?"

    The forensic case that is prepared against Sabich is interesting because it predates the active use of DNA in criminal investigations. Also, the actions of the medical examiner "Painless" Kumagai (Shimono) alternate between the comical and ridiculous. Nevertheless, the trial that is the centerpiece of the movie is truly engrossing. The trial judge Larren Lyttle (Winfield) is quite amusing and speaks his mind.

    What we come to realize by the middle of the film is that political intrigue, blackmail, and sex influence *everyone* in the film. Anyone even tangentially involved in the case is dirty in some respect. No one is innocent. Although you may guess the true identity of the murderer before the trial ends, I promise you will never forget the speech delivered in the denouement of the film. As Sabich says in the final minute of the film, "There was a crime. There was a victim. And there *is* punishment."

    The John Williams score is quite haunting and will stay with you for some time. All of the principal actors (Ford, Bedelia, Julia, Winfield, Spencer, Mardirosian, Dennehy, Grifasi) deliver powerful performances. As a bit of trivia, Mardirosian and Grifasi later had guest appearances in the second season of a fledging TV series named Law & Order. Julia showed that he could play a serious role (unlike other roles in Street Fighter and Addams Family). As a previous reviewer noted, Julia should have garnered an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, as his performance carries the film from the second act forward.

    Buy this movie, and appreciate its subtleties with a second and third viewing. I promise you won't be disappointed. Except of course, by the lack of extras (such as director commentary) on the DVD. Maybe one day a collector's edition will be released....more info
  • Desire, Seduction, Infidelity and Murder. A perfect drama.
    Harrison Ford gives one of his best performances as an intense prosecutor seduced into an obsessive relationship that ends up with a murder and accusation that threatens to ruin his life. This is a fine adaptation of a Scott Turow novel, produced by Sidney Pollack who, in my opinion, can do no wrong. Bonnie Bedelia, Raul Julia, Brian Dennehy and Paul Winfield sparkle under Alan Pakula's tight direction. You won't want to reveal the ending of this provocative thriller....more info
  • Ohboy, ohboy, ohboy!
    Scott Turow is just simply an outstanding legal thriller author, and, IMO, this is still his best. It's ambiguous, sneaky, freaky, scary, and realy believable. A lovely and very seductive lawyer is murdered, and it becomes clear she's been having an affair. Then, much to his amazement, damning evidence points to the prosecuting attorney (played awfully well by Harrison Ford) as the prime suspect, esp when his superior (and a possible other suspect) sets him up for the fall.
    And then there's Ford's odd possibly mentally ill wife...
    Super good all the way through, and it'll keep you guessing as long as you don't read any reviews that give it away....more info
  • Entertaining flick
    I rented this because I just read and reviewed the book which was excellent, and perhaps that's why the three star rating. It's very hard to capture the "between the lines" and subtext going on in the movie, although I will say they got a lot of the lines just right, taken in some cases verbatim and as imagined from the book.
    The problem, of course, is that Turow's writing is very indepth and that just can't be captured on film, and since the movie and story are not much of a "fast-paced" action thriller, I believe it fell short a bit.
    It's still worth seeing, read the book if you can, but I'd hesitate to recommend this as a library item, only because it's not something you can really watch over and over, it's too slow and once you know the twists, what'd be the point?...more info
  • Superb film, well acted and with a twist at the end
    I just saw this film for the second time in a period of several years and although I vaguely remembered the ending it wasn't until the "denouement" that I really remembered the details. However, I would watch it again, even if I did remember the ending because it is so well written and so well acted....more info
  • Most of the actors seem to be sleep-walking through this one.
    "Presumed Innocent" is a so-so courtroom drama, weighed down by a too-slow first act, and a cast that seems almost as if it is sleepwalking through the movie. Ford, Dennehy, and Bedelia seem particuarly listless. Out of the entire cast, only Spencer, Julia, and Winfield seem to display any energy at all--with the latter two being particularly fun in their roles once the movie shifts into the courtroom.

    On the upside, "Presumed Innocent" plays fair with the audience as far as the "whodunnit" aspect of the film goes, and I always appreciate a film that's confident enough in its story to do that. The film gives the audience so many clues and hints that I guessed the identity of the murderer and why and how well before the movie gave us the "big revelation"... but that was actually okay, because it does a good job of giving enough alternate suspects that I doubted my conclusion. The ending also played so well that I minded solving the mystery at the beginning of the second act even less.

    I'm a tremendous fan of courtroom dramas, and I enjoy watching them. "Presumed Innocent" had just enough problems to knock it down to the low side of average. It's a shame, because this film should have been a full-fledged winner instead of a low three-star effort.
    ...more info
  • There was a crime, there was a victim, and there is punishment
    Prosecutor Rusty Sabich (Harrison Ford) comes in to find out that a co-worker he'd been having an affair with was brutally raped and tortured. His boss Raymond Morgan (Brian Dennehy) gives him the case, despite the two's shared past.

    As Rusty progresses with the investigation, evidence is pointing more and more to him. Eventually, he's charged and one of the most compelling court dramas ensues.

    "Presumed Innocent" literally had me on the edge of my seat both times I've watched this film. While Scott Turow's book is better, the movie's still great.

    Rebecca Kyle, February 2009...more info
  • about the movie/film presumed innocent.....
    Singapore sold he code 1 version of this movie/film DVD in videoshops which I managed to grab one....hee hee....and the story is about Harrison ford was at first suspected to murder without knowing it he found out to be his own wife after he, his wife and his child goes to a ;ville' for holiday which she finally confessed her deeds in an undeground storeroom. He just take his wife as insane to do this and say that the case of murder was left unsolved. The problem is that the wife did not like the husband to look for her ex-girlfriend. This movie/film is recommended to those whom are interested in this genre of movie/film.

    Review by:

    (Dr)Ang Poon Kah
    PhD (Prof) in political science from Cambridge University and NUS.
    PhD (Prof) in Neuroscience from Cambridge University and NUS.
    PhD (Prof) in Technology from Cambridge University and NUS.
    PhD (Prof) in Security System from Cambridge University and NUS
    PhD (Prof) in Computer from Cambridge University and NUS.
    PhD (Prof) in film from Cambridge University and NUS.
    PhD (Prof) in Business from Cambridge University and NUS.
    PhD (Prof) in Electronics Engineering from Cambridge University and NUS.
    Bachelor degree in computer studies from Techco University
    Zakkers film director
    ...more info
  • A disgrace to any integral female
    There are two main female characters in the plot: one is a man-eater who will sleep her way to the top (although she may not even need it because she is good independently) and the other is the jealous and depressed housewife who gave up her career for the sake of her husband's. This is a man's fantasy and nightmare come true in one; and a boring cliche for all the intelligent and responsible females of the world. To all the Hollywood men out there: You can't brainwash us anymore with your b/s; okay???...more info
  • A QUESTION OF JUSTICE
    While PRESUMED INNOCENT is competent filmmaking, one can't help but look at the "star system" and see how a talented actress like Bonnie Bedelia is relegated to merely a talented actress and not a star. Had this role been taken by Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Sally Field or numerous other stars, the direction on Bedelia's pivotal speech would have enabled the viewer to see more of her delivery than the reaction of "star" Harrison Ford. This is truly a shame as Bedelia is riveting in her performance of Ford's wronged wife. Ford himself is competent, but his annoying Elvis-like sneer is a little too forced. Brian Dennehy, Raul Julia and Paul Winfield are very good, too, and the adaptation of Scott Turow's complex novel is well thought out and executed. A taut and intense thriller, nonetheless....more info
  • Good combination of court drama and murder thriller
    The beginning of 90's was full of court dramas and murder thrillers. This is a very good combination of both, which means it will attract the fans of both genres. A very good movie with a surprise ending. One of the best movies of both Harrison Ford and the legendary Alan J. Pakula. Deputy Prosecutor Rusty Sabich (Ford) is assigned to investigate the murder of a woman he had an affair with. All evidences are against him. Framed Sabich is desperate to reveal the real killer...so are the viewers! But believe me the ending will surpass all your expectations and anticipations. Charming Scacchi and the beautifully shot love scenes add so much to the film. Do not hurry to presume... ...more info
  • DVD'S
    I enjoy movies, old and new, and the prices @ Amazon are the best. Shipping varies, sometimes is fast, sometimes takes a bit longer. I'm very happy with all they have to offer....more info