Law in Popular Culture

Law at The Movies

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Tonight, the eyes of movie fans will be trained on the red carpet as the Hollywood glitterati assemble for the 84th Annual Academy Awards.

The event has us thinking about how the law, lawyers and lawyering have been portrayed on the silver screen over the years. In the above photo from Reversal of Fortune, Jeremy Irons plays Claus von Bulow, the crassly dependent husband of Newport, R.I., socialite Sunny von Bulow, who lapsed into a coma when she was allegedly injected with an overdose of insulin.

Tried and convicted of attempted murder in 1982, largely on privately gathered evidence, von Bulow hires Alan Dershowitz, the now ubiq­uitous Harvard law professor, whose account of the case is the basis for the movie. In case you aren’t familiar with the case or haven’t seen the movie, we won’t spoil the ending, except to say that Irons won an Oscar for his portrayal.

There are dozens more Oscar-winning and celebrated movies in which the law is a featured character. We’ve already assembled some great lists.

On Screen

The 25 Greatest Legal Movies (Gallery)
• Click here for an alphabetical list, which includes our judges’ rankings and popular vote totals from our Web poll.
• Plus another “25 Honorable Mentions” (List)

The 25 Greatest Fictional Lawyers (Who Are Not Atticus Finch)
• See “The 25 Greatest Fictional Lawyers gallery
• See Other Notable Characters That Did Not Fit Into Our Top 25

Your Turn

Now we’re asking you to share answers to this question:

What Is the Best Law-Related Movie Quote of All Time?

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