Movies From the Hat V #19 – Satu’s Pick – Primal Fear (1996)

This is my 2968th Review

Thanks to Satu of FairyTale Pictures for this recommendation.


“Why gamble with money when you can gamble with people’s lives? That was a joke. All right, I’ll tell you. I believe in the notion that people are innocent until proven guilty. I believe in that notion because I choose to believe in the basic goodness of people. I choose to believe that not all crimes are committed by bad people. And I try to understand that some very, very good people do some very bad things.” – Martin Vail

Number of Times Seen – 3 (Theater in ’96, cable and 20 Mar 2017)

Brief Synopsis – A former prosecuting attorney turned defense attorney must defend a  young man accused of brutally murdering a priest with a very high standing in the community.

My Take on it – I recall that I highly anticipated this movie when it came out because I had just read the novel it was based on.

As we all know, most adaptations of novels don’t do justice, but there are always the ones far and few between that manage to pull it off.

I recall really enjoying the film the first time around except for the fact that they changed the ending a bit.

This made me dislike the film overall and despite enjoying the rest of the film pretty much stayed away for twenty years only seeing it one more time towards the end of the 90’s.

I had been meaning to rewatch it for some time now, but my fear over the slightly changed ended kept me from doing so.

Thankfully, Satu helped me overcome this obstacle and I finally got around to seeing it once again.

I loved the way they did this film because despite the fact that we have been inundated over the years with crime procedurals, this story and it’s thrilling and suspenseful plot still works.

That being said, had it premiered today, I’m not so sure if it would be regarded as highly.

I know have a better understanding as to how and why the changes were made and although I believe that some of the changes are not necessarily, most help to move the story along.

This is also the kind of procedural that is enhanced by multiple viewings instead of the opposite.

The cast is amazing here and it would be probably be impossible to get so many of these known actors together ever again.

Richard Gere, Edward Norton (in his debut), Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, Frances McDormand, Terry O’Quinn, Andre Braugher, Steven Bauer, Joe Spano and Maura Tierney are all spectacular here.

I’m still amazed that Norton was able to get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his feature debut because he really is amazing here.  He ended up losing to Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire (1996)

Bottom Line – Amazing story that works on so many levels.  Multiple watches actually helps make this story even more thrilling.  Having read the book, I was somewhat disappointed the first time I saw this, but have now understood the reasons for some of the major changes.  Amazing cast that would be sooo difficult to attain now. The twists and turns are non-stop in this mystery / court room drama and might not work as well if it was made today due to all of the procedurals appearing daily on TV, but it really gets so much right in keeping this suspenseful.  Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Both Wil Wheaton and Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the part of Aaron Stampler. Wheaton turned down the role because he did not want to put off his acting school, and when his manager urged him to take the role anyway, he told him, “It is like Luke Skywalker when Yoda told him not to go and save his friends, but to stay on Dagobah and learn to be a Jedi instead. Luke didn’t listen to him and that’s why he never became true Jedi master.” Later, Wheaton regretted turning this role down, saying that this was a crucial factor why his career never got to be a successful one.(From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy


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10 thoughts on “Movies From the Hat V #19 – Satu’s Pick – Primal Fear (1996)

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