Sir Wilfrid Robarts, Witness for the Prosecution
Short Review: In Billy Wilder’s film adaptation of Christie’s popular stage play, Charles Laughton is unforgettable as an aging barrister who takes on a client accused of murder. As the case evolves, neither the seemingly naive client nor his angry, cynical wife are as they appear./span>
Chief Judge Dan Haywood, Judgment at Nuremberg
Short Review: Mann’s complicated tale of human horror and moral failure in Germany comes alive in the eyes of a visiting American judge. Spencer Tracy, as Haywood, manages to be both empathetic and just.
Horace Rumpole, Rumpole of the Bailey
Short Review: Leo McKern starred as the disheveled Perry Mason of British television. As barrister Horace Rumpole, he solves cases in stylish fashion—but loses some too.
Jack McCoy, Law & Order
Short Review: Sam Waterston’s McCoy claims to be uncomplicated, but the rule of law in his hands is anything but.
Lawrence Preston, The Defenders
Short Review: Rose, who wrote 12 Angry Men, fashioned Lawrence Preston (right) as the first TV lawyer to confront timely social issues on a weekly basis. E.G. Marshall starred.
Henry Drummond, Inherit the Wind
Short Review: The real Clarence Darrow has nothing on his doppelganger played by Spencer Tracy (left). His piercing intelligence and common touch press Bible Belt jurors to put the Almighty into perspective.
Charles W. Kingsfield Jr., The Paper Chase
Short Review: Through a well-received film version of Osborn’s novel and a long-running TV series, John Houseman became the embodiment of the sagacious, unbending law prof.
Perry Mason, Perry Mason
Short Review: While Atticus Finch is the lawyer most lawyers want to be, Raymond Burr’s Perry Mason is what nonlawyers think a lawyer is.
Paul Biegler, Anatomy of a Murder
Short Review: In Otto Preminger’s wonderfully realistic courtroom drama, Jimmy Stewart shows relentless prosecutor George C. Scott why you never, ever ask a question unless you already know the answer.
Frank Galvin, The Verdict
Short Review: Paul Newman plays a self-loathing alcoholic lawyer who finds personal redemption when he stumbles into the case of a lifetime. David Mamet’s hard-boiled screen adaptation makes all the difference.