… AND JUSTICE FOR ALL
US, 1979, 119 minutes, Colour.
Al Pacino, Jack Warden, John Forsythe, Lee Strasberg, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Lahti, Sam Levene, Robert Christian.
Directed by Norman Jewison.
And Justice For All is strong in the '70s development of black comedy, contrived farce in the midst of what looks like normality, ridiculing institutions and their abuses (and appealing to audience outrage and/or sympathy). The target is the U.S. judicial system, eccentric judges played well by John Forsythe and Jack Warden and mad letter of the law, even to the destruction of lives. Pivotal is A1 Pacino trying to be authentic and honest in a legal asylum (and where his genial, senile grandfather, Lee Strasberg, in a home seems really sane). Pacino is good, but it is not one of his best roles. Black films like this (particularly American also) are always a matter of taste. Direction is by Norman Jewison who made In the Heat of the Night. His '70s films include Fiddler on the Roof, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rollerball, F.I.S.T.
1. The significance of the title? Its place in American belief, Constitution? The credits and the children speaking the line? Serious, comic? The background of the Constitution, American rights, the legal system and legal protection? The mockery?
2. The background of black comedy and how it works? Satire, exaggeration, a particularly slanted viewpoint for satiric purposes? The kind of response it elicits? Questions of vision, taste? A blend of outrage and sympathy? The quality of this black comedy?
3. The American setting and its impact on an American audience, non-Americans? The use of Baltimore and its city, buildings etc? Landscapes? An authentic atmosphere? Reality versus unreality? America in the '70s, a critique? Lasting questions of justice and rights?
4. The realism of the Plot: the experience of jails, courts, the streets, crime, apartments, the old people's home, the helicopter ride and an overview of the city? Lunacy in the middle of such reality and its effect on the audience? The effect on the satiric critique of justice?
5. The quality of A1 Pacino's performance as Arthur Kirkland? The initial view of him in jail, his observing the other prisoners and the imprisonment of the black man with the wig? Audience observing him and seeing through his eyes? His release and its impact on him? The background of his attacking the judge? His skill as a lawyer, reputation, the years of practice? His separation from his wife, the children in California? The strong bond with his colleague who later cracked under the system? The briefs that he undertook, his busyness? His friendship with the judge and the helicopter ride? The collapse of his colleague after the murderer was released and committed new murders? Children? His shaving his head, throwing the plates? The effect an Arthur and his view of justice? Coupled with the suicidal judge? His working for his friend and delegating the release of the black man? The failure of the release and the black man's suicide? His grief? The background of visiting his grandfather, the human touch? His being investigated by the committee and the affair with the girl? The complexities of his life, both private and public?
6. The portrait of his grandfather, a good old man, memories, pride? A pleasant character, the weekly visits? The outings? His forgetfulness? The stories he told? Arthur's care for him? Ordinariness and sanity within the mad world?
7. The hostile judge, the reason for Arthur's physical attack on him? The wrongly imprisoned boy and the length of time that he was in prison? The judge's hardness of heart and his upholding the strict letters of the law? His not giving any leeway? His hostility towards Arthur in the courtroom? The irony of his being accused of rape? Arthur's colleagues and their laughter? The decision to have Arthur as lawyer? The political undertones? The interviews and the judge's hostility, his truth test and the irony of his later admitting to fixing it? The deal at the swimming pool? The sadness of the imprisoned boy, audiences feeling for him? Arthur's telling him to hang on? His desperation and the siege? Arthur's pleading with him and the irony of his being shot?
8. The importance of the episode of the black man with the wig, the opening and his being jailed, stripped, humiliated? The court case, the story of the robbery? His discussions with Arthur and Arthur's demanding directness and truth? His plea not to have to go to prison? His growing trust? The build-up of the report, the man's relying on Arthur, the collapse of his colleague and his delegating the commission? Its lack of preparedness? The pathos of his suicide? Arthur's hostility towards his colleague because of this? Audience emotion at this point?
9. The build-up to the court case, the portrait of the judge and the accusation of rape and its seeming impossibility? The arrogance of the judge? The pressures on the case, the investigation? Arthur and his going around the apartments to gather witnesses, testimony? The harshness and toughness of Arthur's situation? The irony of the failure of the lie detector? The self-satisfaction of the judge? The obscene photos?
10. The build-up to the court case, the ironies of the opening speech and Arthur's switching the plea? The presence of the girl in the court? Arthur and his decision to attack, the madness, the build-up of the deaths, the dramatics of the prosecutor? The presence of the jury and his appeal to them? Arthur's expose of the mad world?
11. The aftermath, people, the judge, Arthur and his sitting outside the court?
12. The background of legal systems in America. the judiciary? Judges and their appointments, their administration of justice? The letter of the law? Investigative counsels and their commissions, their prying into people's lives? Arthur and his reaction against them? The irony of his liaison and his girlfriend? Their intimacy and yet their differing on ideals?
13. The range of people presented in this story ? their interactions. the hard edge of the madness and reality? Coping in real situations which seem impossible? The irony that there seems to be injustice for all?