Oscar Movies: Verdict, The

(Zanuck-Brown production)

Sidney Lumet’s accomplished courtroom drama is based on a screenplay by playwright David Mamet from Barry Reed’s novel. Most impressive in Lumet’s mise-en-scene is his use of silence, which is as eloquently effective as the dialogue.

The story concerns two surgeons’ near-fatal act of criminal negligence that turns a female patient into a basket case. Rather than inform on them, the woman flees Boston and the hospital, which is owned by the Catholic Church. She’s pursued by a fiftyish alcoholic attorney who wants to use the negligent casegetting the wrong anesthetic–to redeem himself.

In his seventh Oscar nomination, Paul Newman gives one of his finest performances as Boston lawyer who’s hit bottom until a medical negligence case gives him a chance to restore his self-esteem, while fighting for the kind of justice he still believes in.

Running time: 129 minutes

Oscar Alert

Oscar Nominations: 5

Picture, produced by Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown
Director: Sidney Lumet
Actor: Paul Newman
Supporting Actor: James Mason
Screenplay (Adapted): David Mamet

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context

In 1982, Richard Attenborough’s historical biopic “Gandhi” swept most of the Oscars, including Picture, Director, and Actor (Ben Kingsley). James Mason, who had been nominated before, lost the Supporting Actor Oscar to Louis Gossett, Jr. in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” The Adapted Screenplay Oscar went to Costa-Gavras and Donald Stewart for “Missing.”