AFI Movie Club: THE VERDICT – American Film Institute
The Verdict Film Still - Paul Newman



THE VERDICT is ranked #75 on AFI’s list of cinema’s most inspiring stories – as well as #4 on the 10 greatest courtroom dramas to grace the silver screen.

Watch Jimmy Smits announce THE VERDICT:

Movie Trivia about THE VERDICT

-DID YOU KNOW that producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown purchased the motion picture rights to author Barry Reed’s 1980 novel “The Verdict” before it was even published? 

-DID YOU KNOW, although the film is set in Boston, various locations in and around Brooklyn Heights, NY, stood in for most of the exterior shots of the film? 

-DID YOU KNOW that Robert Redford was originally attached to star as Frank Galvin in THE VERDICT? At the time, it was rumored in the trades that Paul Newman would play Redford’s rival attorney, Ed Concannon, igniting false media reports of their first onscreen reunion since starring together in THE STING. Redford would ultimately leave the project and Newman would step into the lead role. 

-DID YOU KNOW Bruce Willis was an extra in the final courtroom scene? He can be seen sitting a few rows behind Paul Newman. 

-DID YOU KNOW that the bar that Frank Galvin would frequent throughout THE VERDICT has also been a location for other iconic films like THE GODFATHER: PART II and SERPICO? 

-DID YOU KNOW that director Sidney Lumet has said that he did not read the novel until after committing to the film? He based his decision to helm the movie off of screenwriter David Mamet’s script. 

-DID YOU KNOW that according to William Goldman’s “Adventures in the Screen Trade,” screenwriter David Mamet’s original script wasn’t initially favored by the film’s producers? Richard E. Zanuck and David Brown brought in two other screenwriters to take a shot at adapting the novel, but director Sidney Lumet preferred Mamet’s take on the material – and worked with Mamet to polish the film’s climax. 

-DID YOU KNOW that Julie Christie passed on the role of Laura Fischer that was ultimately played by Charlotte Rampling? 

-DID YOU KNOW that cast members Edward Binns and Jack Warden also played jurors #6 and #7 in 12 ANGRY MEN, another acclaimed courtroom drama which was also directed by Sidney Lumet? 

-DID YOU KNOW that THE VERDICT received five Golden Globe nominations and five Academy Award® nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Paul Newman and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for James Mason? Writer David Mamet received his first Oscar® nomination for THE VERDICT. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-What makes THE VERDICT different from other courtroom dramas? And how does it compare? 

-Sidey Lumet has made some of the finest legal dramas in cinema, including 12 ANGRY MEN. Which is your favorite out of these films and why? 

-Robert Redford was initially attached but was uncomfortable playing an alcoholic. What did you think of Paul Newman’s performance in the role and why do you think he was attracted to the role of the morally ambiguous Frank Galvin? 

-How is Frank Galvin’s long dormant idealism and desire for justice reawakened by taking a case against a Catholic hospital in Boston? 

What do you think of the relationship between Frank Galvin and Laura Fischer? How do they mirror one another in terms of their self-destructive tendencies and how do they differ? 

-Do you think Frank was right for not taking the first offer and settling the case? Why do you think he fails to tell the Doneghys about the settlement offer from the Archdiocese? 

-What was the revelation that changed Frank’s mind of how to handle the case? 

-Why did Frank refuse to answer the phone at the end of the movie? 

-Do you believe justice prevailed at the end of THE VERDICT? 

-Was Frank redeemed for his past transgressions by the end of the film? 

-How would you rank THE VERDICT? 

In this exclusive AFI Archive video, Sidney Lumet talks about making THE VERDICT: 


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