The Spine of “The Verdict- 1982”


Inciting incident: “MONEY!” Frank Galvan has been thrown out of numerous funeral homes and after a subsequent alcoholic breakdown destroying his law office, he is presented with an opportunity to see great financial gains from and old friend who presents him with an easy offer.

PLOT POINT 1: Frank Galvan is seeing dollar signs! He has a guaranteed $210,00 check on its way. All he has to do is take the payout! At Plot Point one, the story takes its first spin into a new direction after Frank visits the Hospital on a routine visit to collect evidence by taking photographs of the victim. This scene sets precedence as Frank struggles with his inner moral conflict. As he stares at the Polaroid’s as they come into focus bedside, so does Frank Galvan’s conscience. His moment of enlightenment. Now, he’s on a new mission as he stares down his $210,000 check at the archdiocese office, he has the courageousness to stand up for his moral beliefs.

MID POINT:  Star witness, Dr. Gruber is on vacation in the Caribbean Islands! Frank Galvan’s case is crumbling around him. The Archdioceses has retracted their monetary settlement offer, the family that Frank has swore to defend have lost all faith in his abilities to serve their interests, and the un-sympathetic judge has denied his request for an extension. Newly discovered key witness, nurse Kaitlin Costello, is unwilling to testify. Frank begins to self doubt against insurmountable odds

PLOT POINT 2: Frank Galvan begins to question why Laura Fischer is not testifying.  Mickey discovers the answers to this question while rummaging through her purse for cigarettes, a check for $575.00 from the Defendants Attorneys. The story spins yet again in another direction as the audience no longer knows who to trust.

CLIMAX: Kaitlin Costello Price’s emotionally charged testimony. Defendant’s cross examination set itself upon the path of self destruction as Kaitlin’s testimony was solid and unwavering. The truth was un-deniable and yet her testimony and Xeroxed original copy was stricken from the court. Frank’s closing argument was heartfelt and emotional. ALSO, That jury knew crap when they heard it and returned a “Verdict” of not guilty with increased monetary damages!!!! I loved that Jury and hated that judge.

END POINT: We witnessed a man’s transformation as he discovered a new faith in the legal system and the citizens who serve it. A lot of hard work and perseverance pays of when one believes in a just cause. Yet again the old cliché goes, crime doesn’t pay!  Last point, I’M GLAD FRANK DIDN’T ANSWER THAT PHONE !

11164791_detExcellent story that exhibited detailed character conflicts and emotional prejudices. As is the case with most of Sidney Lumet’s films, they are controversial to say the least.  I couldn’t help but notice when Frank’s character was startled to discover that Dr. Thompson was a 74 yr old black man.  Typical Sidney Lumet, “Q&A” (1990) comes to mind, and realistic for its time period.

Frank’s back-story is revealed in ACT 1 when the Archdiocese are discussing the plaintiff’s attorneys past history. Frank Galvan’s past is haunting him relentlessly. Mickey gallantly discusses Frank’s past in full detail to Laura Fisher during a brief luncheon. Fuel has been added to the fire at this point. I think this works in this film because it helps the audience to understand Franks inner demons.

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