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Presumed Innocent

A movie directed by Alan J. Pakula

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Never assume you are innocent until proven guilty

  • May 9, 2000
Pros: ....

Cons: .......

Rusty Sabich (Harrison Ford), assistant District Attorney
Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy), District Attorney
Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi), sex crimes prosecutor
Barbara Sabich (Bonnie Bedelia), Rusty's wife
Judge Lyttle (Paul Winfield)
Nico Della Guardia (Tom Mardirosian), incumbent District Attorney
Sandy Stern (Raul Julia), Sabich's defense lawyer

Carolyn Polhemus is found raped and murdered

Originally, due to her volatile past and ambitious nature, most people she has prosecuted, eventually suspicion centers on Rusty Sabich.

Overwhelming evidence pointing to Sabich and the fact that he and Carolyn had shared a sordid affair, though he had originally been the one to investigate the crime he is now forced to defend himself - to the community and his peers and his wife.

THE STORY: Horgan, compromised by years of corruption and wheeling and dealing, is running for re-election. Early into his campaign, Carolyn is found raped and murdered. Pushing a reluctant Sabich into investigating the death of Carolyn, Horgan (also a former lover of Carolyn) loses his bid for District Attorney to Nico Della Guardia. Fingers start pointing to Sabich in Carolyn's death - a beer glass with his fingerprints, blood type matching, the truth of their affair - Sabich is thrown to the wolves by Horgan and forced to form his own defense with the capable help of Sandy Stern. Della Guardia decides to handle the case personally, his debut into the office of District Attorney.

At no point is the fact that truth is the main ingredient here. The desire for the win is more important than the discovery of the true killer of Polhemus. Stern's defense is so powerful that the case is thrown out of court by the Judge before even going to trial. The fact is that the prosecution is so biased against Sabich that they completely blow all major factors in the case, with a little help from a detective friend of Sabich's (John Spencer) - the missing and most important evidence, the beer glass with Sabich's fingerprints.

Unfortunately, during his own investigation into Polhemus's murder, Sabich discovers the true killer and is put under a great deal of duress trying to decide what to do with the evidence he has uncovered. I will not give this information out, nor the facts surrounding the murder, but it is really bizarre!

Based on the novel by the same name written by Scott Turow, this little ditty is a glimpse into the underbelly of crawling flesh that is the legal system. A truly powerful performance by Raul Julia as attorney Sandy Stern with a boring to mediocre performance by Harrison Ford. His character, the main focus of the entire movie, is flat and lifeless. Dennehy as usual is the pompous, self-righteous ass he usually portrays, Winfield is a powerful and thought provoking judge. Scacchi is one hot trashy little number and Bedelia is one twisted lady! The quirky and redeeming Spencer in the end is Sabich's life saver and plays his role calmly and sedately in the background, ingratiating himself into all their lives.

A powerful and thought provoking movie.


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About this movie


PRESUMED INNOCENT is a disturbing murder mystery told in the style director Alan J. Pakula (ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN) enjoys best. Harrison Ford (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER) plays prosecuting attorney Rusty Sabich, who is deeply shaken by the sudden rape and murder of a colleague and former love interest. Sabich is assigned to the case, which becomes clouded by both personal and political interests that are in conflict. An adaptation of Scott Turow's best-selling novel, the film presents an intense look at the human flaws of ambition, greed and lust.
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Director: Alan J. Pakula
Release Date: 1990
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: Warner Home Video (May 01, 2007)
Runtime: 2hr 7min
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