From the director of the classic masterpiece 12 Angry Men, comes The Verdict
I recently purchased Paul Newman: The Tribute Collection by 20th Century Fox at a second-hand book store in excellent condition. Within this box set was a gem I never saw before. For the first time, I viewed the Verdict. Boy, what a movie, Paul Newman still had gas in the tank in his twilight years. I cheered at the end! I love this movie. Paul Newman’s closing argument still rings true today even more.
Boston lawyer Frank Galvin takes his face out of the shot glass for one last shot at redemption, taking on a medical negligence case against powerful attorney Edward Concannon.
“You know, so much of the time, we’re just lost. We say, “Please, God, tell us what is right; tell us what is true.” And there is no justice: the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead… a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims… and we become victims. We become… we become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today you are the law. You ARE the law. Not some book… not the lawyers… not the, a marble statue… or the trappings of the court. See those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are… they are, in fact, a prayer: a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say, “Act as if ye had faith… and faith will be given to you.” IF… if we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves. And ACT with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.”
Frank is seen multiple times playing a pinball machine. This ties in with his quote about the weak needing a chance at justice, not necessarily justice itself. The game is a metaphor for how some things are based on chance as well as dedication. His playing improves as he becomes more and more dedicated to the case (also evidenced by the shots continually becoming brighter), but it is still just a chance at winning. The cheerful beeping noises also reflect his recent “score” with Laura. The fact that he is late because of the game reflects how he is still not committed to the need to fully change his moral compass.
“The Verdict” has a lot of truth in it, right down to a great final scene in which Newman, still drinking, finds that if you wash it down with booze, victory tastes just like defeat.