Regardless of anyone’s opinion about people who work in the legal industry, it’s hard to deny the fact that many of the greatest American movies revolve around attorneys. When I watched Bloomberg Law’s new video compiling the “The 10 Greatest Legal Movie Lines,” it was cool to see that several of the featured movies are among my favorite films of all time. It’s because there is something timeless and intrinsically cinematic about the work lawyers do, which allows for great stories, and great TV and movies.
But cutting the massive catalog of great legal-themed films down to only ten is tough. A lot of people have to get left out. Only two of the ten characters in Bloomberg’s video even made it into the Elite Eight of our fictional lawyers bracket from last year. And lawyers are not the only ones saying the “greatest” quotes in question.
So the selection might cause a little bit of controversy among ATL readers. Let’s see who made the cut…
Bloomberg Law sums up the new list like so:
From “The Paper Chase” to “A Few Good Men,” from “Erin Brockovich” to “My Cousin Vinny,” movies reflect society’s complicated relationship with lawyers. Films represent lawyers as the comic foil, the defender of the downtrodden, the embodiment of evil, and the fighter for justice. By turns the hero and the villain, lawyers are perfect vehicles for whatever point the filmmaker wants to make. Beyond displaying the talent of the film makers, great movie lines reflect what we are as a society.
The editors of Bloomberg Law have selected the 10 funniest, most moving, or most inspiring legal movie lines. It is no surprise that these lines come from the mouths of a range of characters.
For better or worse, there is no sign of Reese Witherspoon or Matthew McConaughey here. Instead we have the likes of Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson, Paul Newman, John Travolta, and a sultry Julia Roberts.
Here’s the video clip, and the list of film names is underneath:
In list form:
- The Paper Chase
- The Firm
- Erin Brockovich
- The People v. Larry Flynt
- A Civil Action
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- A Few Good Men
- My Cousin Vinny
- A Man for All Seasons
- The Verdict
I am quite happy they included Paul Newman’s role in The Verdict. That movie is phenomenal, and it cuts to the heart of the power lawyers have to do real good in the world. Plus, notwithstanding his involvement in The Wiz, Sidney Lumet was one of the best directors America has ever had. (If you haven’t seen Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and of course 12 Angry Men, please update your Netflix queue immediately.)
To Kill a Mockingbird, A Few Good Men, and My Cousin Vinny are obvious, if somewhat uncreative, choices. But that is okay.
I don’t have any real problems with any of the other quotes, EXCEPT for the inclusion of John Travolta, who should not be included in any “Best of” list, ever. It is incredible how many terrible movies he’s made (Battlefield Earth, Face/Off, Wild freaking Hogs), and yet he still somehow has a reputable career. I don’t even care that A Civil Action was a good movie. (Yes, I know he was in Pulp Fiction, Grease, and Saturday Night Fever. Again, I don’t care.)
But that’s just me. So without further ado, venerable commentariat, I turn the debate over to you. Which legal movie quotes would you add to this list? Are there any on this list that you would definitely take off? Was it fair to include Tom Cruise twice on such a short list?
Let the arguing begin.
The 10 Greatest Legal Movie Lines [Bloomberg Law]
Earlier: Fictional Lawyer Madness