When a corrupt judge is charged with rape, Arthur Kirkland must defend him. Kirkland has had problems with the judge in the past, including one incident when the judge wrongly sentenced his client, Jeff McCullaugh, because of a technicality. Kirkland faces a moral and legal dilemma, especially difficult because the judge admits he is guilty.
Al Pacino plays a Maryland lawyer who takes on a judicial system rife with dealmaking in this awkward blend of satire and sentimentality. Topical director Norman Jewison can't seem to help Pacino get comfortable with the mismatched material, which pushes the film into outrageousness at some turns and mawkishness at others. The script by Barry Levinson and Valerie Curtin is more an accumulation of random ideas and moments than a congruent story. However, it's interesting to see the large cast of good actors, most of whom hadn't become well known yet. (Christine Lahti made her film debut here.) Pacino gets to work for a second time (following The Godfather II
) with acting mentor Lee Strasberg. --Tom Keogh
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.