Courtroom Dramas: The Best Legal Movies and the Stories Behind Them

Yale University

Marc Lapadula is a Senior Lecturer in the Film Studies Program at Yale University. He is a playwright, screenwriter and an award-winning film producer. In addition to Yale, Marc has taught at Columbia University’s Graduate Film School, created the screenwriting programs at both The University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins–where he won Outstanding Teaching awards–and has lectured on British and American Theatre and playwriting. Lapadula has given highly acclaimed classic film lectures on a wide range of cinema topics across the country at notable venues, such as: The National Press Club, The Smithsonian Institution, The Commonwealth Club, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and The New York Historical Society.

Overview

Hollywood loves lawyers. And they love judges, jurors, surprise witnesses, smoking guns and falsely accused heroes as well. Perhaps one of the reasons courtroom dramas are so reliable is that they follow a time honored protocol. Whether they’re plaintiffs or defendants, we’re on the side of a plucky upstart who needs the help of a determined legal hand to fight injustice. Usually it’s  not just the characters being put on trial either. It’s the establishment, the system, the country, the past, and the future. No wonder there are so many great courtroom dramas, and Yale film professor Marc Lapadula will be discussing and analyzing the ten films below – some of the very best!

 

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marye.hefty

An excellent judge

We thoroughly enjoyed this summary and picked up several legal movies we had not heard of before to watch.

1 year ago
marye.hefty

An excellent judge

We thoroughly enjoyed this summary and learned about several legal movies to watch.

1 year ago
jim.bridger

An important Presentation

This was a very informative presentation to me. I had seen a few of the selected movies before, but did not really think about the cultural and social impact that these movies had provided. This was particularly evident for the movie Philadelphia in that, according to the presenter, it caused the scientific community to speed up its effort to find a treatment for HIV/AIDS. I had never really thought about this aspect of movies. They are much more than mere entertainment.

8 months ago
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