Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Verdict

I had another 'can't turn off the TV' moment last night when I happened to flick onto The Verdict in the middle. Now, I love a courtroom drama even when it's dreadful, so when it's one of the most outstanding examples of the genre, how could I stop watching?
Yes, I'd seen it before - several times - but yet again it seemed fresh and exciting. You can't beat the combination of Paul Newman, directed by Sidney Lumet, acting a script by David Mamet. That's the dream team.
I was mesmerised.
What struck me last night was that again and again in the movie the story-telling has nothing to do with the words the characters are saying. Some moments portray a complex exchange or shift in emotions without a single word. I won't ruin anything for those who haven't seen it, but one example is when a character notices a 'plane ticket in Paul Newman's pocket.
Not a single word is necessary. She knows what it means; we know what it means; Paul Newman knows she's seen it, and knows he's rumbled because he knows she knows what it means.
It's all there on the screeen, in complete silence. Because of that, the next line packs an almighty emotional wallop. I won't tell you any more in case you haven't seen it.
Great movie. Watch it.
I was musing on how great Sidney Lumet is - The Verdict, Twelve Angry Men and many more.
Then I found out he also directed 'The Wiz'.
Even the greats have an off-day.

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