Gideon’s Trumpet (1980)


“[discussing a person’s right to have an adequate defense during a trial] What I’d like to say to the Court is: “Let’s not talk; let’s go down there and watch one of these fellows try to defend themselves”.” – Abe Fortas

Number of Times Seen – 1 (8 Jul 2018)

Brief Synopsis – Based on the true story of a convicted criminal who petitioned the Supreme Court based on the fact that he was not given a lawyer to help defend himself because he couldn’t afford one.

My Take on it – This is a film that I came across by accident when reading a biography of former Supreme Court justice Abe Fortas.

He had the distinction of being one of the few future Justices to actually argue before his future peers in a landmark court case.

This film depicts that case in a really interesting way.

The story presented shows the fluidity of the US justice system and how it is willing to be challenged at all times and when those challenges are found to be correct, they are even willing to change the rules of the system.

This film has a great cast and is led by a very subtle performance by Henry Fonda as the convict challenging his incarceration and Jose Ferrar as the lawyer Abe Fortas who chose to defend him in front of the Supreme  Court.

This film stays very realistic the entire time and that largely has to do with the fact that they present it all matter of factly and make sure that the viewer understands it alll as things move forward.

Bottom Line – Very interesting film that shows how the American court system works fluidly and can be challenged or changed whenever necessary.  The cast of this film is great with Fonda and Ferrer both giving great performances. The fact that this is based on fact helps keep things realistic the whole way through. Loved that this film features a real life character who worked as the lawyer on this case and just a few years later was himself appointed to the court as one of the Associate Judges. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – John Houseman’s character is never identified by name, but historically, the Chief Justice at that time (1961) was Earl Warren. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (8/10)

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One thought on “Gideon’s Trumpet (1980)

  1. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1980 |

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