...And Justice for All

1979

...And Justice for All

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

81%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 26

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 19,033
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...And Justice for All Photos

Movie Info

Norman Jewison's blackly satirical look at the American justice system has gained in stature as one of the more incisive social commentaries of its time. Al Pacino plays Arthur Kirkland, an incorruptible attorney who attempts to initiate reforms in the Maryland justice system. Kirkland is haunted by the fates of two past clients, one of whom committed suicide in jail; the other is still alive but is locked up on a trumped-up traffic violation. The ability of power and money to distort the pursuit of justice becomes all too clear as Kirkland finds out how deeply the rot has spread. He is ultimately blackmailed into defending a repulsive judge (John Forsythe) accused of rape, and faces a crisis of conscience. Pacino's and Forsythe's performances are intense and powerful. Many critics found the film biting and almost painful in its razor-sharp indictment of the justice system, while others declared the script too outrageous.

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Cast

Al Pacino
as Arthur Kirkland
Jack Warden
as Judge Francis Rayford
John Forsythe
as Judge Henry T. Fleming
Lee Strasberg
as Grandpa Sam
Jeffrey Tambor
as Jay Porter
Christine Lahti
as Gail Packer
Robert Christian
as Ralph Agee
Thomas G. Waites
as Jeff McCullaugh
Larry Bryggman
as Warren Fresnell
Craig T. Nelson
as Frank Bowers
Dominic Chianese
as Carl Travers
Victor Arnold
as Leo Fauci
Vincent Beck
as Officer Leary
Michael Gorrin
as Elderly Man
Joe Morton
as Prison Doctor
Alan North
as Deputy Sheriff
Tom Quinn
as Desk Clerk Kiley
Charles Siebert
as Assistant District Attorney Keene
Robert Symonds
as Judge Burns
Keith Andes
as Marvin Bates
Stephen Blackmore
as Robert Wenke
Jack Hollander
as Prison Warden
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News & Interviews for ...And Justice for All

Critic Reviews for ...And Justice for All

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (6)

  • Justice is seldom as deep or trenchant as it wants to be, but there's abundant pleasure to be gleaned from skating along its surfaces.

    Jan 24, 2013 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    Nathan Rabin

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • Attempts to alternate between comedy and drama, handling neither one incompetently, but also not excelling at either task.

    Jan 24, 2013 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Aims to do for the American judicial system what All the President's Men did for the presidency, and if Jewison had only maintained the tone of the superb original screenplay, he might have succeeded.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • With the exception of Mr. Strasberg and Mr. Levene, the actors are as hysterical as their material.

    Jul 25, 2005 | Rating: 2/5
  • Here's an angry comedy crossed with an expose and held together by one of those high-voltage Al Pacino performances that's so sure of itself we hesitate to demur.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • ...And Justice for All has no part in the stock trade of shock witnesses and surprising revelations. This is about how too many guilty people walk while the innocent take their places in overcrowded jails.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for ...And Justice for All

  • Aug 28, 2013
    Not for all, at leas not for THE ONE who matters the most!! Clumsy way of making an attempt to expose the legal system for what it is, and displaying its effects on those concerned. But it was much realistic and wish I could have appreciated it for that.
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Jul 13, 2012
    Wow, the poster makes this film look more like a satire on how marketing tries to cool things up too much, because they really did go out of their way to make this film look more exciting than it is, because it stars Al Pacino and has a really emphatic title (They went ahead and put the "..." at the beginning of the title as though it really were a stinger) that sounds more fitting for a B-action film, or at least an action film that's more likely to star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Man, Schwarzenegger would make a really cool lawyer, but lord knows that I wouldn't want him to represent me, because not even a lot of the films that he's been in are credible, and I'd imagine that he would be in the middle of the courtroom gunning everyone down and saying something like, "Court adjourned", only you wouldn't be able to hear him through, well, the gunfire, but also that thick accent. No, I want a lawyer who believes in preserving justice and is firm, thorough and effective "before" he begins shooting up the place while yelling one-liners in a super thick accent, so I'm going with Al Pacino here. In case you didn't get it people, Pacino did this film a couple of years before he donned a scar and Cuban accent for "Scarface", so don't go thinking that this film started a lengthy streak of deeply dramatic films, partially because this film is mainly a satirical dark comedy, or that this film is as exciting as the scenario mentioned above. This film can drop obvious self-jokes all it wants and Pacino can scream, "You're out of order!" all he wants, but at the end of the day, if Norman Jewison doesn't have a musical about Jesus, then he doesn't really know what to do to keeps things fun. Eh, whatever, this film still makes for a pretty decent watch, and actually isn't all that dull of a courtroom film, so don't go expecting this to be like the courtroom drama that Pacino's buddy Francis Coppola went on to do with Matt Damon. I actually liked "The Rainmaker" more than this film, it's just that it seriously needed to pick up the pace, and while that's something to be said about this film, I wouldn't stress it as much, though I would still stress it, nevertheless, which isn't to say that slowness is the only fault found in this film. Based on my opener's underemphasis on the film's being a satirical dark comedy, I'd imagine that you're expecting this film to be subtle in its satirical bite, when really, it rarely gives you an opportunity to forget that it's almost mostly a comedy, yet doesn't do so in the most even of fashions. The film's level of satirical subtlety is often rather inconsistent, with the satire having points where it incorporates light but noticable absurdity into its more relatively grounded moments, then turning right around to go well over the top in a fashion that both dilutes satirical effectiveness, as things do get to be a bit too absurd, and drives a fairly off-putting unevenness into the humor. Needless to say, once dramatic aspects fall into play, they're even less organic in their incorporation amidst such obvious humor, as much of the drama gets to be really serious, yet because of the messy transition into such drama, dramatic punch goes slowed down a bit, and it doesn't help that the drama occasionally gets to be a bit sentimental. Still, if nothing else is consistent about the film, then it is, of course, slowness, as the film often quietly limps along with loosely edited moments of either dry dialogue or simply nothingness. What further slows down the film, both in oomph and even story, are a fair couple of scenes that are entirely cuttable and only drag down the momentum of the story to the point of leaving plot to all but fall out entirely for a moment. The film is a dull and limp one that drags along excessively, with only so much consistency in its should-be compensating satire for it to bite all that deeply all that often However, the film doesn't limp its messy little self down to mediocre, for although it is an absolute mess of a slow watch, it's still a watch worth sitting through, being supported by a fair couple of undeniable strengths, one of which being, in fact, the very humor that is so messily handled. As I said earlier, the inconsistency in subtlety within the humor often dilutes both the bite of the satire and amusement value of the joke, and a couple of jokes just plain fall flat on their face, yet quite often, the humor strikes, whether it be one of those slow-burn subtler ones that settle in and stick with you, or one of those unexpected broad ones that strike from out of nowhere and may even leave you laughing fairly hard. Also, while the satire's effectiveness goes held back by both the messy direction of the film and the messiness of the humor behind the satire, it does cut through from time to time and leaves your eyes to fold open to a flaw in the justice system that you never really thought about, and while this film most likely won't shake your faith in court justice too much, you're still bound to walk away with material to chew on and think about. Some of your more relatively dramatic aspects, while often handled ever so messily, will have moments where it really does pierce and supplements the thought-provoking value of the film, giving it some more weight and effectiveness. Really, there is plenty about this film that is rather forgettable, being that the film is ultimately so underwhelming, yet it still plenty of memorable aspects that do genuinely stick with you. Among the handful of memorable aspects in this film are a couple of characters, and for that, credit goes out to Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson for writing some colorful personalities, as well as out to the performers for giving the more memorable characters such life, whether it be through charm or even some unexpected emotional intensity. Obviously, leading man Al Pacino really owns the show as Arthur Kirkland, bubbling with a very engaging, somewhat down-to-earth charisma that earns your investment in him as a charming lead, while eventual consistent bursts of incredible emotional range and layers unveil depth within our lead that makes him even more compelling and gives this film some additional weight. If nothing else, you'll walk away feeling rather charmed by the film, as it is an innocently ambitious effort that may get to be much too messy, but satisfies perhaps more of its ambitions than not. Bottom line, the film is considerably uneven, both in its tone and its level of satirical subtlety, and with extreme slowness - made so intense by a dry atmosphere, extreme looseness over dull dialogue and nothingness, as well as even the occasional lapse in plot focus - further pulling back the bite of this film, the final product comes out limping as an underwhelming experience, yet still one reasonably worth having, as it hits quite a few humorous notes, while the satire will find points in which it bites and leaves you with material worth pondering upon, and with moments of genuine dramatic effectiveness and a colorful cast of charmers - headed by an immensely charismatic and, eventually, deeply emotionally inspired and exceptionally layered Al Pacino - giving the effectiveness of the final product an extra kick of memorable aspects, "...And Justice For All" ultimately emerges a generally enjoyable, if not rather provocative darkly satirical, when not dramatically impacting portrait on the justice system, even if it, like the very justice system it's poking fun at, has quite a few glaring faults. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 01, 2011
    An over-rated legal drama centering on one lawyer's (Al Pacino) desire to take-down the legal system that is so corrupt. While this movie features a heck of a turn from Pacino (but this is always expected), as well as a phenomenal performance by the vastly under-rated Jeffrey Tambor, this film is convoluted to the max. There is just frankly way to much stuff going on packed in to a two-hour slot, topped off with an overdone Pacino speech near its conclusion that feels forced and something totally expected in a Hollywood crowd-pleasing script. A pretty bad film, and one that should have dropped one of its many side-plots and focused on only two or three of them, that way the dramatic punch it tries to swing at its conclusion would have had more weight to it.
    Dan S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 16, 2011
    It's extremely misguided; There's about 7 subplots and none of them ever get fully developed. While it's not focused, it does have an ambition. It wants you to take a look at the psychiatric aspects. It wants you to fully realize how messed up living that life can be. Every character hits their breaking point. The ambition is there, but the execution is heavily lacking.
    Logan G Super Reviewer

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