Greatest Westerns

Greatest Courtroom Dramas

Introduction


Greatest Courtroom Dramas:
One of the best subject areas for dramatic films (or sometimes crime films) are suspenseful, law-related courtroom trials, which pit lawyers against each other, and set up a tense one-on-one conflict between a prosecutor and a defendant. Sometimes, the protagonists are a "little" guy (an individual) against a "big" guy (or corporation), or the more abstract "good" vs. "evil," or they often involve wider issues, such as race, sex, capital punishment (life and death), and morality.

And of course, courtroom dramas usually contain some of the most fascinating thematic elements in film -- murder, betrayal, deception, perjury and sex. They often feature unexpected twists and surprise testimony, unusual motives, moral dilemmas, crusading lawyers and wrongly-accused victims. AFI defined the courtroom drama as "a genre of film in which a system of justice plays a critical role in the film's narrative."

Many courtroom film dramas are based on historical events, such as the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial (in Inherit the Wind), the war crimes tribunal (in Judgment at Nuremberg), and Sir Thomas More's defense against treason (in A Man For All Seasons). However, for reasons of length, many non-fiction courtroom dramas are often shortened or compressed, and details are sometimes glossed over or changed.


Greatest Courtroom Dramas
(chronological by film title)
Introduction | 1920s-1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s
| 1980s | 1990s | 2000s-now



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