The Verdict Analysis


Director: Sidney Lumet

Writer: David Mamet

Cast: Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden and James Mason

Synopsis: Frank Galvin, a once-renowned lawyer down on his luck, has one last client with which he can cash in. Instead, he wages a court battle against the Catholic Church of Boston for a last chance at redemption for his very soul.


Frank Galvin

Desire 1: To win the case of Deborah Ann Kaye

Desire 2: To redeem his soul

Forces of Antagonism: Alcoholism and fears of facing past demons, Laura and Concannon and Various Characters, the Church and the Law and the Medical Society and the Rich

Inciting Incident: Frank meets with Kevin and Sally Doneghy who present him with an easy case to make money.

Inciting Incident 2: Frank takes pictures of Deborah Ann Kaye, realizing that he can’t exploit her for his own gain and decides to fight for her.

Act One Climax: Frank refuses to take the Church’s offer.

Midpoint: Laura confronts Frank and tells him to stand up and be a man.

Act Two Climax: After being betrayed by Laura, Frank goes to court for one last stand.

Act Three Climax: Frank presents his renewed view of justice to the court and wins the case.


  1. Redemption: Frank is haunted by his past, full of betrayal and a loss of a sense of justice. Confronted with a chance to redeem himself, he faces down his own failure to redeem himself.
  2. A Battle of Social Classes: The film takes great pains to show a distinction of economic classes, the poor who are struggling to get by (the Doneghys, the nurses) and the rich who reap all the benefits of a rigged system (Concannon, the Church, famous doctors). The plight of the poor is reflected in Frank, who was once rich, but is now a poor outsider.
  3. Finding Justice: In such a flawed world, where the rich achieve success and institutions (the law, the church, medicine) have failed so many, finding justice is hard to see. Emphasized by Frank’s speech at the end of the film, justice is inside each of us, we just need to find it in (as Frank does).

Scene Breakdown:

  1. Frank (0:00-1:40): Character Exposition

Action: Frank Galvin, a harsh shadow blocking his face, plays pinball, drinking a beer, a street desolate behind him.

  • By not showing Frank’s face, only his actions are illuminated; the actions of a drunk. The bright and empty street behind him shows him just how alone he is in the world.


  1. Frank (1:41-5:06): Character Exposition

Action 1: Frank brushes himself up, visiting a widow, looking for easy insurance case money. He leaves immediately after making his case. He crosses off another funeral from his list.

Action 2: Frank goes to another funeral searching for cases. The son of the deceased kicks him out. Frank walks alone down the winter street.

  • Frank’s actions further illustrate the despair of his situation. His clothes, though professional, are worn and tattered, illustrating a man who once held high esteem but has fallen on hard times.
  • His constant unease with what he is doing is evident in Paul Newman’s acting, Newman fidgeting, always looking down at the ground.
  • Finally being thrown out, the harsh cold of winter illustrates his being trapped in despair.


  1. Frank (5:07-6:32): Character Exposition

Action 1: Frank tells funny stories at a bar to a bunch of drunks, the best dressed guy in the joint, buying everyone drinks.

Action 2: He trashes his office in a fit of drunken self-loathing, tearing his walls empty.

  • The series of shots are shot straight on or at a high angle, illustrating Frank’s meagerness with the luxury of his office seemingly greater than him.
  • By emptying the walls of his frames and degrees, he exposes his soul, bare and empty.


  1. Frank, Mickey (6:33-9:30): Introduction of Main Plot- Introduction of Secondary Ally Character

Inciting Incident for Mickey: Desire- Protect Frank

Action 1: Mickey picks him up off the ground, noticing the disarray of his office.

Action 2: He reminds him of the Deborah Ann Kaye case coming up in ten days. He gives him an ultimatum to get his act together and solve this case.

  • Despite the disarray, Mickey helping Frank up and his lack of surprise illustrate that this is not an uncommon occurrence and that Mickey cares for Frank by continually lifting him up.
  • The scene takes place as a two-shot, Mickey in the light, and Frank in the dark. An open window between them illustrates the distance between the emotional state of both characters.
  • When the action cuts to medium shots between the characters, the light is harsh on both of them, but Frank appears a mess, blood dripping off his eyebrow, unshaven and messy while Mickey is clean shaven, his coat buttoned. This further highlights the differences between the characters.


  1. Kaye Case (9:31-15:42): Further Development of Main Plot- Supporting Characters Introduced

Inciting Incident for Frank: Desire- Win case and reclaim esteem

Action 1: Refreshed, Frank gets ready for the case.

Action 2: He visits the hospital, looking over his client, strapped up to a ventilator, the only thing keeping her alive. He sees that obviously he has a case worth winning.

Action 3: Frank comes back to his office to find Sally Doneghy waiting for him. He awkwardly welcomes her inside. He explains the situation to her, just how winnable the case is.

Action 4: Sally starts telling Frank about her sister and her children and the tragic situation.

Action 5: Sally’s husband, Kevin, enters. They talk about the cost and the need to move on from the painful situation.

  • Frank is the only thing in black in the hospital, sticking out like a sore thumb, obviously not a part of this world. This is further accentuated when a patient asks him to move off his bed.
  • The conversation with Sally begins in cutaways, but moves into a two-shot, Sally pleading with Frank. This highlights how the case is becoming closer to Frank, a morality to it that he can’t escape from, drawing him in.
  • When Kevin enters the scene, he and Sally are shot together, but Frank moves to sitting on his desk away from them, drawing a line from the situation he had been morally drawn to.


  1. Church (15:43-17:10): Introduction of Antagonizing Force

Inciting Incident for Church: Desire- Clean up case

Action 1: A lawyer outlines the biography of Frank Galvin to the bishop. He explains that Frank can’t go to court for fear he will lose. The bishop explains he doesn’t want the case in court either and will make an offer to Frank personally. The lawyer confirms to the bishop that they would win in trial anyway.

  • The lawyer and the bishop are shot in tracking shots, illustrating that they are moving quickly as their dialogue suggests, always in motion, trying to solve their issues with expediency. This is in stark contrast to the slow moving Frank.
  • As the lawyer and the bishop move, they are far in the background, leaving the audience to just them by their cold words and not their faces. This makes them appear bureaucratic and not empathetic, showing how they view their own negligence as a business transaction and not a moral issue.


  1. Kaye Case (17:11-19:35): Gaining Ally for Main Plot and Learning Details

Action 1: Frank searches out Dr. Gruber. They talk as they walk. Dr. Gruber explains to Frank that the doctors are indeed responsible for her death. They discuss the deposition and agree to meet later.

  • Frank and Dr. Gruber walk through a maze of staircases and walkways, sometimes hidden by columns, illustrating the difficult terrain morally Frank is passing. They walk into full frame for Dr. Gruber’s dramatic line of “The doctors killed her”, leaving no doubt about the truth amongst all the legal issues.
  • Frank is never given a close up in the entire scene. The only close up is given to Dr. Gruber when he states that he is giving the deposition, “to do the right thing. Isn’t that why you’re doing it?” The next shot is a long shot of Frank looking small, an answer to Dr. Gruber’s question pictorially. Frank then shouts ecstatically.


  1. Laura (19:36-21:09): Introduction of Love Interest

Laura Inciting Incident: Desire- Get to know Frank

Action 1: Frank approaches Laura at a bar, looking for apartments. He asks to buy her a drink, but she turns him down.

Action 2: On her way out, Laura tells him that she’s glad he had a good day.

  • Laura looking for apartments explains that she is low on money, foreshadowing the role her character will play.


9. Kaye Case (21:10-23:03): Illustrating Character’s State of Mind

Action 1: Frank talks on the phone to Sally, explaining how everything is going. He listens to her talk about how her sister is so unprotected. He tries to talk her out of thinking too emotionally while drinking and writing how much his cut could be.

  • The shot slowly moves in to focus on Frank. While Frank’s face had been hidden before in regards to the case, the viewer can now see Frank’s lack of caring and knows what he is doing is wrong.


10. Kaye Case (23:03-25:12): Inner Change of Character Towards New Goal

Frank Second Inciting Incident: Desire- Gain Justice for Deborah Ann Kaye

Action 1: Frank returns to the hospital. He starts taking pictures of the victim hooked to the ventilator.

Action 2: Frank stops as the pictures develop. He tells a nurse that he is her attorney.

  • The viewer watches Frank’s face change as he takes the photos of the poor woman. This is in harmony to the photographs taken as they slowly develop, illustrating things becoming clear to Frank. No longer is she a prop to get him his money, but a person whose life has been taken away.
  • Frank’s change is complete as he sits down on her level, something he had been unable to do previously. He tells the nurse nearby that he is her attorney, signifying a change in how he views the girl.


11. Kaye Case (25:12-29:22) Protagonist Commitment to Journey

Frank End of Act One: Committed to Trying Case

Action 1: Frank sits and listens to the bishop explain the good that St. Catherine’s does for the community. He presents the church’s offer.

Action 2: Frank explains that they’ve all been bought off to look the other way. He refuses to take their money.

  • The red in the environment, matching the red worn on the bishop’s head, illustrates that Frank is wholly in the bishop’s domain.
  • Frank is given a choice in a series of shots and the script takes careful measure to record everything that Frank had originally wanted: no court, a neat $70,000 for himself, a way to move on for the family. He chooses to not do what he wanted for moral reasons.
  • Frank turns down the money with the pictures he had taken in his hands, along with the church’s money. These figures in each hand represent the moral balance at stake for his character, the scales of the law that he claims to represent.
  • Frank is shot to be very small in the scene, showing a lack of power. It is interesting at this moment that this shows his greatest conviction of character, seeming to push beyond the pressures to take the money.


12. Kaye Case, Mickey and Frank (29:22-31:43) Establishing Bond with Ally

Mickey End of Act One: Mickey committed to seeing Frank to end of line

Action 1: Frank visits Mickey playing cards. He convinces him to hear him out.

Action 2: Mickey tries to convince Frank to change his mind. Frank refuses.

Action 3: Mickey points out that the Archdioceses’ lawyer is Ed Concannon, who he calls the prince of darkness, trying to get him to understand just how wrong things could go. Frank says he has to stand up for that girl.

Action 4: Frank tells Mickey he’s going to try the case and he needs his help. Mickey agrees to help.

  • Frank and Mickey’s conversation is now done in tracking shots, showing Frank moving in his agenda rather than trapped an alcoholic. We also see Frank’s face, connected with him on his journey as a hero.


13. Concannon (31:43-34:42) Introduction of Chief Antagonist

Concannon Inciting Incident and Act One: Concannon committed to besting Frank

Action 1: Concannon explains to his army of lawyers the situation regarding Frank. He explains the plan, including reviewing depositions and starting a goodwill tour for the doctors. He concludes with a plan to make it seem that Frank’s trial is an attack on the institution.

Action 2: The Archdioceses lawyers get their documents together.

  • The long boardroom in the scene illustrates how much more manpower the Archdiocese has in comparison to Frank and Mick, who operate just by themselves.


14. Frank and Mickey (34:42-35:59) Devising Strategy and Evaluating Enemy

Action 1: Frank and Mickey work at a long empty table. Mickey goes over the background of the doctors and their prestige. Frank states that as long as they have Dr. Gruber, they’ll be all right and begins to research cases that’ll help them.

  • As Mickey talks about the doctors and their history he calls them appearing as if God to a jury as he stands at the highest point of the frame, a reference to how mighty they’ll appear in testimony. He walks back down as he talks about the two of them and the camera pulls in, bringing us back to Earth, with Frank.


15. Laura (35:59-42:02) Committing to Emotional Attachment with Love Interest

Laura Act One Climax: Committed to Frank and his life

Action 1: Frank tells Mickey he’ll meet him tomorrow because he’s going to get laid.

Action 2: Frank goes to Laura. He asks her questions about her life. She reveals that her ex-husband was a lawyer. He gets her to tell him her name.

Action 3: He tells her he bets she came back to see him. She doesn’t confirm or deny it. He gets her to agree to dinner with him.

Action 4: Frank explains his philosophy on why he is a lawyer, that the weak need somebody to defend them. Courts exist to give the weak a chance at justice.

Action 5: Laura comes home with him. They kiss between drinks. She notices the picture of his ex-wife next to his bed and laughs it off.

  • The scene is all done in shot, reverse shot, showing them as a couple, bringing them together.
  • Laura is always looking around, peering at the things Frank is saying or his apartment. What could be interpreted as mindful glances of a potential lover are subtle clues that she is digging for something deeper. Her laugh at the ex-wife portrait is her first moment of genuineness, suggesting that all of their interaction before was a charade.


16. Kaye Case (42:02-47:05) Antagonistic Forces Begin Offensive

Action 1: Frank plays pinball, besting the game. He notices the time, realizes he is late and runs out of the bar.

Action 2: Frank enters into his meeting with the Judge and Concannon late. He tells Concannon they have met before, but Concannon obviously doesn’t remember it. The Judge pushes Frank to take the Archdiocese’s deal, as does Concannon.

Action 3: The Judge points out Frank’s past history, including his almost disbarment. Frank states that things can change, but the Judge tries to humor him into taking the deal. Frank refuses. The Judge leaves for court, then Concannon, leaving Frank alone.

  • Frank is seen multiple times playing a pinball machine. This ties in with his quote about the weak needing a chance at justice, not necessarily justice itself. The game is a metaphor of how some things are based on chance as well as dedication. His playing improves as he becomes more and more dedicated to the case (also evidenced by the shots continually becoming brighter), but it is still just a chance at winning. The cheerful beeping noises also reflect his recent “score” with Laura. The fact that he is late because of the game reflects how he is still not committed to the need to fully change his moral compass.
  • The Judge and Concannon represent a world of current order that Frank used to be a part of, but isn’t anymore. The Judge and Concannon are very open in their arms and gestures while Frank is closed and reserved. Frank is always given his own shot while the Judge and Concannon are looking at Frank and the audience over Frank’s shoulder. As the Judge makes his offer to “save” Frank from embarrassment, he offers first Concannon tea, showing their partnership, then Frank, showing he could rejoin their ranks by accepting the offer. At the end, Frank is totally alone.


17. Kaye Case (47:05-51:17) Complications with Past Allies

Action 1: Frank questions potential jurors. He is out of practice.

Action 2: Frank and Mickey discuss the case. Concannon is planting stories in the newspaper. He realizes he is late to meet Dr. Gruber.

Action 3: Kevin Doneghy finds Frank and punches him. He threatens Frank for ruining his life and not taking the offer.

Action 4: Frank tries to explain his reasoning to Kevin, saying he’ll get more money after court.

Action 5: Kevin states that lawyers are all alike and they will live his mistake.

  • The jury is framed through the audience’s point of view, putting us as the jury in terms of Frank’s performance. With his asking if the Jewish man had ever been at St. Catherine’s hospital, it shows a lack of preparedness.
  • After Kevin punches Frank, all the action takes place in medium shots so the audience can view the reactions of Frank and Kevin. This makes their interaction that much more powerful.


18. Kaye Case (51:18-55:48) Antagonistic Forces Take Control

Action 1: Frank tries to find Dr. Gruber, but he is nowhere to be found. He asks a nurse, but she states that he hasn’t been there all day.

Action 2: Frank looks Dr. Gruber’s home address up and visits his residence. He rings the doorbell. There is no answer. A woman informs him Dr. Gruber is in the Caribbean and won’t return for a week.

Action 3: Frank visits the Judge, seeking an extension to subpoena Dr. Gruber. The Judge closes the door in his face.

  • The scene takes place in the same location as the first scene with Dr. Gruber, but it is much darker, the shadows becoming ominous forewarnings of the force that Frank is fighting. Frank is shot entirely alone again.
  • The score kicks in as Frank realizes that he is out of his depth. It is especially eerie since this is one of its first uses.
  • Paul Newman gives a powerful reaction shot after he rings the doorbell. He turns into a close-up from the emptiness of the street in the previous shot as he realizes how he has been manipulated.


19. Laura (55:49-57:22) Explaining Protagonist History

Action 1: Mickey talks with Laura. He explains how Frank got into trouble in the past, how his boss tried to fix a case and he got stuck with the blame.

  • Though Mick and Laura are shot in the same booth as Frank and Laura’s date, the scene does not feel the same because of the angle of the shot, both characters shot in medium-wide rather than medium-close, making the scene less personal. Mickey also stares away for the most of the scene, lost in the past.


20. Kaye Case (57:23-1:02:37) Responding to Antagonist Attacks

Action 1: Frank, obviously desperate, talks to an operator. He gives her a number for the Archdiocese to call him.

Action 2: In his office, Frank answers the phone, trying to get the original offer of $210,000 back on the table. There is no luck.

Action 3: Frank explains the situation to Mickey. He gets started on a list to replace Dr. Gruber. Frank starts calling doctors.

  • Frank’s conversation on the phone with the Archdiocese features only his dialogue. This makes the force he is dealing with beyond human control, an unnatural force of nature more than a human being (this ties in with the pevious scenes of him running through the streets searching for any human figure). The viewer imagining what the other end of the call is like is worse than an actual representation.
  • The scene is shot in a long shot, showing just how meek Frank is. Frank and Mickey are also shot with the same window between them as their first scene, showing the distance in their standing. As Mickey is enlisted by Frank for help, he pulls closer to Frank, eliminating that distance.


21. Laura (1:02:38-1:03:16) Searching the Protagonist for Hope

Action 1: Laura tries to get Frank to relax.

  • Laura’s face is completely in shadow. This makes her seem more ethereal than an actual person, a force. This also pulls away emotional attachment to her.


22. Concannon (1:03:17-1:05:41) Antagonist’s Mounting Plans

Action 1: Concannon reviews the testimony of Dr. Towler. He instructs him on how to say his testimony and appear to a jury, speaking in short sentences and referring to the girl by her name. He is confrontational with the doctor, telling him to cut the bullshit.

Action 2: The doctor accuses Concannon of not knowing what it was like in the room, practically reliving the experience. Concannon laughs, knowing how that will play in court.

  • Showing the force of the lawyers of St. Catherine’s everything is bright, the shot is shown across a long table and there are many lawyers gathered.


23. Kaye Case (1:05:42-1:07:46) Protagonist’s Plans Flounder

Action 1: Frank waits at the train station for Dr. Thompson. He is shaken to see that he is unorthodox and black.

Action 2: Frank calls Mickey to see if he has found the nurse who won’t testify. He hasn’t.


24. Kaye Case (1:07:47-1:10:10) Flummoxed Protagonist Pushed to the Limit

Action 1: Frank visits the nurse, Maureen, who won’t testify in search of evidence for Deborah Ann Kaye, trying to figure out why there was a mistake in the operating room.

Action 2: He pushes the nurse, threatening to subpoena her, knowing that she won’t tell him the truth. She calls all lawyers whores and slams the door shut.

  • Frank is framed in the middle of the shot, the door to screen right and the wall to screen left, representing how boxed into a corner he is.


25. Concannon (1:10:11-1:11:14) Antagonist Gathering Confidence

Action 1: One of the lawyers tells Concannon how unqualified Dr. Thompson is.


26. Kaye Case (1:11:15-1:12:45) Protagonist and Ally Questioning Their Resolve

Action 1: Dr. Thompson tells Mickey his findings from the case. Mickey tries to get a rise out of Dr. Thompson.

Action 2: Mickey asks him what “code blue” is. Dr. Thompson doesn’t know, signifying his lack of expertise. Mickey and Frank share a glance.

  • Frank is framed sitting by while Mickey questions Dr. Thompson, always in the shadows. His apprehension regarding the testimony is evident by his mere presence, not getting involved.


27. Laura and Frank (1:12:16-1:16:17) Protagonist Challenged to the Core

Frank Midpoint: Frank now has to man up to survive in court, a quest that he has failed up to this point

Laura Midpoint: Laura moves beyond love interest to morality questioner, challenging Frank

Action 1: Frank tells Laura that they’re going to lose. He questions why he ever took the case to trial.

Action 2: Laura tries to get him to man up and face his problems. She accuses him of being a kid, a failure if he doesn’t start acting like a man.

Action 3: Frank ducks away into the bathroom to catch his breath. He begs her not to pressure him.

Action 4: Frank kisses Laura, asleep in bed.

  • Frank hides almost in the doorway, admitting defeat, while Laura, his conscience, looms large. This comparison shows a broken man. The opposite angle shows Laura, medium shot, against white drapes, making her appear more angelic, while Frank remains small in the doorway, surrounded by straight lines made by the bed, dressers and drawers, another symbol of him being boxed in.
  • There is a further crescendo of soundtrack as Laura digs into Frank.


28. Kaye Case (1:16:18-1:19:51) The Protagonist Enters the Arena of His Challenge

Action 1: Frank tells Sally he’s going to do the best he can for her and her sister. He enters court.

Action 2: Mickey tries to get Frank to lighten up. Frank doesn’t laugh. The Judge enters. Court begins

Action 3: Frank addresses the jury in his opening statement.

  • The court is presented as a wide expanse, completed with a multitude of different people. The brown furnishings glisten as if this were a mausoleum. The audience to court is framed primarily in darkness, taking our place as moviegoers, watching the action present between lawyers, judge and jury.
  • Frank’s opening statement features a tracking camera, along the back of the jury. This puts the viewer in the place of the jury, judging for themselves Frank’s performance and heart.


29.Kaye Case (1:19:52-1:26:19) Frank Confronts Minor Antagonist (Judge)

Action 1: A couple of lawyers discuss the case, indicating that they have a source working against Frank.

Action 2: Concannon questions Dr. Thompson. Concannon placates the court by admitting him as an expert witness.

Action 3: Frank begins to question Dr. Thompson. The Judge blurts out a question at the witness, seemingly taking over the court himself. Frank hastily retreats after the Judge’s question. Court is adjourned.

Action 4: The Judge, in his chambers, accuses Frank of needing to have been kicked out long ago. Frank finally stands up for himself, telling the Judge he only wants a fair share, and the Judge is losing the case for him. Frank is thrown out of chambers.

  • Thompson is framed very small, showing his lack of strength in the courtroom initially. As Concannon attacks him more and more, the shots becoming closer, showing the expressions of both men.
  • Frank is framed next to the jury, showing just who he is trying to influence.
  • The Judge is framed higher than everyone else, appearing large and formidable compared to the rest of the court. When questioning Dr. Thompson, he stands up, elevating himself even more.
  • As Frank yells at the Judge in his chambers, the Judge is seated with his back to the camera, diminishing in size and power while Frank stands over him, intimidating. This is the first instance of Frank doing what Laura had wanted of him: taking control.


30. Kaye Case (1:26:20-1:28:35) Protagonist, Driven by Pride, Damages Himself

Action 1: Frank tries to calm down Sally. He walks away as she cries.

Action 2: Frank questions Dr. Towler. He refuses to let him actually answer any of his questions, continually plowing onto another point. When Dr. Towler actually does answer, he contradicts Frank’s point and damages the case.

  • Seeing Concannon prep Dr. Towler earlier, the audience knows he is prone to giving in to pressure and waits from him to break as before, but instead he remains cool, showing how much he has been prepared.


31. Kaye Case (1:28:36-1:31:00) Rededication by Protagonist, Aided by Allies

Action 1: Frank and Mickey stand together, mulling over the damage to the case he’s made. Dr. Thompson says goodbye, saying that people have a great capacity to hear the truth.

Action 2: Frank tells Laura he has no idea what he’s going to do.

Action 3: Mickey rubs Frank’s shoulders, telling him there’ll be other cases. Frank states that this is the case.

  • Frank is positioned facing down, his back to Mickey, not even able to look him in the eye. Mickey’s displeasure is evident all over his expression. Mickey serves as a moral compass for Frank to attain to throughout the film, and this simple posture illustrates just how far Frank has fallen.
  • The snow covering the ground indicates how frozen and alone Frank is in his case.


32. Kaye Case, Concannon and Laura (1:31:01-1:32:41) An Ally and Love Interest Reveal Their True Nature

Laura Act Two Climax: Laura’s actions are revealed to be false

Concannon Act Two Climax: Concannon reveals just how far he is willing to go to beat Frank.

Action 1: Concannon gives Laura a check, revealing that she is the informant on the Kaye case. Concannon explains her own internal thinking, showing he understands what she is going through, but that it is necessary.

  • Concannon talks to a mysterious off-screen presence, setting up Laura’s reveal through a tracking shot. He gives her a glass of whiskey in the same manner that the Judge gave him, symbolizing that she is part of that system now.


33. Kaye Case (1:32:42-1:35:50) The Protagonist Gains New Insight and Direction

Action 1: Frank and Mickey go through the facts of the case again. Frank notices an interesting face about the admitting nurse and leaves the office.

Action 2: Frank visits Maureen Rooney again. He tricks her into believing that he has already talked with Kaitlin Costello, the admitting nurse, and learns her location.

  • Frank discovers the interesting tidbit about the admitting nurse framed against the diplomas hanging back up on his wall, showing that he has some achieved some of the prestige of his past.
  • Frank meets with Maureen in a church, offering a parallel of confronting one’s demands and seeking help with no other place to turn to.


34. Kaye Case (1:35:51-1:38:15) The Protagonist Runs Into a Pitfall

Action 1: Frank and Mickey try to find Kaitlin Costello. Laura sneaks around, looking for information to leak back to Concannon.

Action 2: After calling many Kaitlin Costellos, Frank is exhausted. He has no leads.

  • Frank’s exhaustion shows on his face as the camera starts with a wide shot, then moves in closer and closer to close up.


35. Kaye Case (1:38:16-1:44:01) The Protagonist Makes One Last Attempt at Chance for Success

Action 1: Frank wakes up after sleeping the night in his office. He finds a letter from the New England Telephone Office.

Action 2: Frank speaks to Kaitlin and boards a flight after her. As he calls Laura, Mickey finds the check from Concannon to her.

Action 3: Frank finds Kaitlin taking care of some children on a playground. He keeps up the charade of looking into the program for his nephew until she sees his plane ticket in his pocket. He asks if she’ll help him.

  • This scene involves a number of close ups on paper. From Frank finding the letter from the phone company to Mickey finding Laura’s check from Concannon to Kaitlin spotting Frank’s plane ticket, all little pieces of information relating to information hiding just below the service, everyone with secrets to hide.
  • Only when Frank stops lying to Kaitlin, as he has lied and manipulated all the other persons in the case, does he get true help in the situation. He stops being just a whore who doesn’t care about anyone, as Maureen had called him, and becomes an actual human being trying to do right by his client.


36. Laura (1:44:02-1:46:01) The Protagonist Faces Down Against Allies Turned Enemies and Emerges to Finish Quest

Mickey Act Two Climax: Mickey protects Frank even though it means hurting his heart.

Laura Act Three Climax: Laura, hated by herself and Frank, is tossed away.

Frank Act Two Climax: Frank, betrayed by the institutions and his job, must complete the last leg of his quest by himself.

Action 1: Mickey waits in the sidewalk for Frank. He takes him around the corner and tells him about Laura’s betrayal.

Action 2: Frank runs into the dark bar, the sunlight spreading in from the window nearby. He finds Laura and punches her. She tells the other men in the bar to leave him alone.

  • As Mickey tells Frank about Laura’s betrayal, the shot pulls back to an extreme long shot. We do not hear their actual conversation, but we are so in tune with the characters that we already know how it goes. Through the simple body language of Frank and Mickey, we see his reaction.
  • Rather than any actual confrontation, Frank and Laura simply stare at each other, Frank shocked, Laura guilty, their reactions evident simply through acting. The camera moves in to Laura, judging her as Frank does.


37. Kaye Case (1:46:02-1:59:12) The Protagonist Fulfills His Last Stand, But the Antagonizing Forces are Too Strong

Concannon Act Three Climax: Concannon uses every last trick in the book, defying his own morality, in a last attempt to win the case.

Action 1: Sitting on a plane, Frank tells Mickey that he doesn’t want a mistrial.

Action 2: Mickey brings Frank breakfast. Laura calls. Mickey lies that Frank isn’t there.

Action 3: Frank questions Dr. Towler again. He asks if he had administered an anesthetic one-hour beforehand, causing her to vomit in her mask, if that would make him negligent. He agrees that it would.

Action 4: Frank questions Kaitlin on the stand. Kaitlin testifies that Deborah had told her she had eaten on-hour prior to visiting and marked it down.

Action 5: Concannon questions Kaitlin on the stand, bullying her. Kaitlin tells him that she kept a copy of the original admittance form and relates how the doctor made her change the one on the from into a nine. Kaitlin runs out of the room.

Action 6: Concannon launches a series of changes to Kaitlin’s testimony, Frank fighting back, but the Judge sustaining. All of Kaitlin’s testimony is disallowed.

  • As opposed to the previous court scene, this takes place later in the day, the darker hues and colors, stronger shadows, representing the darkness that Frank has gone through.
  • The camera tracks Dr. Towler as he leaves the stand. As Kaitlin Price is called up, he turns straight to the camera, shocked. This gives the audience a glimmer of hope and understanding that he has indeed just lied on the stand.
  • Kaitlin is filmed in the center of the screen, a strand of light illuminating her face and hair, appearing angelic, a vision of truthfulness. Her virtue and fear at her surroundings immediately brings the audience emotionally to her side.
  • Concannon’s questioning of Kaitlin features him at a high angle, dwarfing over her, as if attacking. This presents him as fearsome, his tone registering the perfect balance of calm accusatory. As Kaitlin begins surprising him with her testimony, she pulls out his frame, leaving him on the defensive, highlighting his own reactions. Kaitlin then speaks directly to Dr. Towler, everything flashing back to four years, a conclusion to a scene the audience has never seen, but can perfectly imagine.
  • As Concannon rips apart Kaitlin’s testimony, the Judge is seen assuming his previous place as higher than other individuals, but Frank, with his objections, keeps rising up in the frame, trying to reach that peak of importance. Concannon grows larger in the frame. Frank however, is shown small in the frame, showing his lack of power.


38. Frank, Kaye Case (1:59:12-2:03:26)

Church Act One Climax: The bishop knows about the truth, but, wrapped in his self-importance, moves on.

Frank Act Three Climax: Frank lays bear everything he has learned during the case, the need for true justice in a world of corruption and the need to fight for it.

Action 1: The bishop talks with several of his lawyers. They all believe Kaitlin was telling the truth, but agree that legally the case is over.

Action 2: Frank addresses the jury. He states that if we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves and act with justice. He impassions the jury to believe in justice because at that moment, they are justice.

  • The scene is set later in the day to reveal the evening of the story and how things are coming to a close.
  • Frank explains the main themes of the film: the rich win while the poor lose, liars are everywhere and everyone becomes a victim. He reflects the same strong themes he had told Laura near the beginning of the story, trusting in the power of the truth.
  • The camera moves in on Frank as he delivers his closing statement, presenting us as the jury, and giving Frank the opportunity to present his changed self, the self of core beliefs that he had lost and regained.
  • As Frank had always been trying to reach Mickey’s stature of moral acceptance, Mickey pats Frank’s arm when he returns to his seat, signifying his acceptance.


39. Kaye Case (2:03:27-2:04:46)

Kaye Resolution: The case is won.

Action 1: The jury returns to deliver a verdict in favor of Deborah Ann Kaye. They ask for more allowance to be given than the suit asked for.

  • The camera follows the jury as they return to the courtroom, letting the audience finally actually see them, and in so doing, us.
  • As the verdict is read, the camera pans down from the loft of the Judge down to Frank, showing that Frank has now achieved the grandeur so long lost to him.
  • The scene cuts before the amount of reward is announced, showing that the true importance of the moment is not money, but the serving of the justice strived for by Frank.


40. Laura (2:04:47-2:06:47)

Laura Act Four Climax: Laura and Frank, free from the case, are unable to reconcile their differences in morality.

Action 1: Various people congratulate Frank as he leaves the courtoom. He looks out to see Laura in the distance. He walks past her. When he looks back, she is gone.

Action 2: Laura lies in bed, drunk, knocking a glass over. She calls Frank. Frank lets the phone ring as he sits in his office. He closes his eyes, immune to the noise.

  • Laura appears very small in frame, Frank dwarfing her, showing how small she has become while at the same time how great Frank now is.
  • Laura disappearing shows just how far he has moved on, Laura becoming a haunting image of regret and betrayal in his mind, no longer a person, but a ghost.
  • Frank’s office is now pristine. He is cleanly shaven, drinks coffee instead of booze, a picture of respectability. By closing his eyes, he moves past Laura and the corruption she represents.



The Verdict represents a search for justice in a world where the rich and powerful usually win. Frank seeks justice not from the court, but from higher powers, the ability to find justice in ourselves amongst all the pain of the world. The verdict of the trial is not an actual court case, but of Frank’s soul, to see if he has truly earned a place as a respectable man. As characters rise and fall around him, he finds  justice for his client, deprived of it by the very same people who deprived him of his reputation, through an appeal to our inner goodness.







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