Paul Newman’s Frank Galvin has seen better days. Now he’s a broken-down, alcoholic ambulance-chaser. But then his last chance arrives in the form of a negligence case being brought against two doctors who gave a young woman the wrong anaesthetic, reducing her to a vegetable. Though Galvin at first is planning to settle out of court, he changes his mind, and the result is a David-and-Goliath courtroom struggle.
Though a 1982 release, The Verdict still has much of the feel of a 70s f…lm. Its tone is sombre, its pace stately, and there are lots of long silences and meaningful looks. Newman’s performance is assured, and he dominates the film, ably abetted by David Mamet’s screenplay. Newman does make room for Charlotte Rampling, however, who manages be expressive while keeping her face immobile.
One of the soundtrack options is stereo, but you’d be forgiven if you didn’t notice. I had to stop the film and check the settings to make sure what I was listening to was, indeed, stereo. This is a quite, dialogue-oriented film, so pyrotechnics aren’t to be expected, and there are very few musical cues. There are really only two moments when I was aware the sound effects having any surround presence at all: briefly at the 52 and 76 minute marks. Left-right separation is minimal. The sound, however, is distortion-free.
The print, though it does have occasional speckles, is otherwise in excellent shape. On the plus side: great blacks and contrasts, and the format is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. On the debit side: some edge enhancement and grain, and the colours, though they are clearly supposed to be cold, and sometimes a bit colder than I think was intended. Jack Warner in particular has an unhealthy pallor. On balance, however, a nice transfer.
The menu is basic, but there are a few extras to note. The primary one is the commentary. Director Sidney Lumet is articulate, knowledgeable, and personal, and has plenty of time to cover all the subjects he wants over the two-hours-plus of the film. He does sometimes point out the obvious, but for the most part is an interesting guide. The other extras are a standard promo featurette, a still gallery and the Paul Newman trailers (The Verdict, The Hustler, Hombre, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).
A literate, involving courtroom drama, with a top-drawer cast, and a commentary that, interestingly, matches the mood of the film. A solid evening of cinema.
Special Features List
- Behind the Scenes Gallery
- Theatrical Trailers