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Contrived escapades of a young and idealistic lawyer, Pacino, who sees his clients abused and wrongly punished by a judicial system gone haywire. A transvestite client who cannot tolerate prison hangs himself; another young man is sent to prison for a series of abuses that stem from a
broken taillight on his car (he is eventually shot to death while attempting to break prison despite Pacino's whining pleas to surrender). The lawyer's only friend is a wacko judge, Warden, who restores order in his court by firing his automatic into the ceiling, spends his lunch hours perched on
a high window ledge of the courthouse, and entertains himself by flying about crazily in a helicopter, crashing one and almost killing himself and Pacino, his terrified passenger. Pacino is subsequently asked to defend Forsythe, a venal, self-righteous judge he hates and who hates him. Forsythe is
accused of sadistically raping and beating a young woman. He selects Pacino to defend him because he believes the altruistic lawyer will do his utmost to save a person he dislikes out of pure principle (which is about as realistic and reasonable as staring into the sun to improve one's vision).
Pacino undertakes to undo the judge, gathering overwhelming evidence against him. Then, in what is supposed to be the dramatic climax, he attacks his client in court with such venomous zeal that he is literally dragged from the courtroom screaming, "I'm gonna get him!" No character development,
ridiculous situations, and a miserably written script attempting to indict corrupt legal and judicial systems add up to a tiresome and pointless film where Pacino is wasted as a witness to a parade of lunatics. The pity is that a truly important film could have been made to demonstrate the
condescending and selfish caste system that the legal field has sadly become. Instead, we get this cartoon that comfortably profiles only those lawyers and jurists too bizarre to be realistically accepted as representative of a mistrusted profession. The Academy nominated Pacino for Best Actor (he
lost to Dustin Hoffman for KRAMER VS. KRAMER) and Curtin & Levinson for their screenplay, needless to say they didn't win.