Movies on Trial by Anthony Chase
The Legal System on the Silver Screen

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An absorbing and unexpected analysis of the way popular films influence our view of the law. The popular culture of American law has never played a larger role than it does today in shaping the way we think about lawyers and the legal system. Our very definition of justice is now inseparable from motion picture and television images and popular legal narratives, from Hollywood westerns and O. J. Simpson to Law and Order and John Grisham. In Movies on Trial, law professor and movie aficionado Anthony Chase sorts out some of the complex and often contradictory notions Americans have about the legal system. He uses movies to investigate and inventory many of our deepest beliefs about law and politics, and provides a strong historical and intellectual context throughout. Analyzing Dirty Harry and True Believer for their commentary on the Miranda ruling and criminal procedure, and explaining tort law via The Verdict and A Civil Action, Chase also employs Three Kings to reveal changes in international law and The Rise to Power of Louis XIV to explore the rise of the modern state. Through the lens of film, he is able to describe and analyze the symbiosis between the image of law and its actual practice in our cultural imagination, in a genuinely illuminating and entertaining book.

Movies discussed include: All the President's Men • Anatomy of a Murder • Ben and Me • A Civil Action • Dirty Harry • Erin Brockovich • Fight Club • The Gingerbread Man • Heart of Glass • Italy: Year One • Johnny Tremain • Judgment at Nuremberg • A Man for All Seasons • The Marriage of Maria Braun • The Parallax View • The Rainmaker • Revolution • The Rise to Power of Louis XIV • Silkwood • Three Kings • Touch of Evil • Traffic/Traffik • True Believer • The Verdict • Wilson • Young Mr. Lincoln


About Anthony Chase

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Anthony Chase teaches in the Department of Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College. Amr Hamzawy is Senior Associate at the Democracy and Rule of Law Project, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Published June 1, 2002 by New Press, The. 204 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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However, Chase’s synopses of film critics' views on a given subject are succinct and often illustrative of broader themes, as in his catalogue of the reaction to John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln.

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Publishers Weekly

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Arguing that civilians' perception of American law is largely shaped by representations of it in motion pictures and TV, law professor Chase (Law and History) explores films that deal with criminal law, civil law, international law, interpretations of the Constitution and more.

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