Five Memorable Courtroom Scenes

I feel like I should be writing a “Phenomenal 5” post for Keith of Keith and the Movies, who is currently keeping it real in none other than Paris, France right now. However, inspiration for this post spurned from finally getting around to a little movie called To Kill a Mockingbird. How I have not seen it until now comes as a great surprise to me too. But what’s the line? Oh, right, “better late than never.”

Placed in no purposeful order, here are five memorable courtroom scenes in movies.

To Kill a Mockingbird

The courtroom scene in To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most intense and emotional scenes in the film. We hear statements from all the witnesses, and Brock Peters, who plays Tom Robinson, gives a heartfelt, honest account of what really happened. Following all the witness accounts, Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) challenges the jury to do the right thing, concluding his speech with the famous words, “In the name of GOD, do your duty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson.”

Legally Blonde

This list would not be complete without including Legally Blonde. Dressed head to toe in her theme color, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) takes on the role of lawyer and solves a case that a girl cut only from the cloth of an Elle Woods type would know. Too bad they went ahead and made a sequel. That was a disaster waiting to happen. And that isn’t me being biased because I’m a brunette, k?

Miracle on 34th Street

What’s more memorable than a lawyer arguing the realness of Santa Clause in court? I actually really enjoyed both the original 1947 film as well as the 1994 remake. You can’t help but feel a little warm and giddy inside when men start carrying all the mail addressed to Santa into the courthouse, or not crack up a little when the opposing lawyer’s son is used to support the existence of good ‘ol Saint Nick.

A Few Good Men

The line “You can’t handle the truth” is one of the most well-known lines to come from a film, delivered by a deliciously slimy and arrogant Jack Nicholson. The back and forth between Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) and Col. Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) engrosses viewers as Kaffee defends innocent men on trial who were following orders. A Few Good Men is one of my favorite Tom Cruise films, and I believe it makes up some of his best work.

Liar Liar

If you’ve seen Liar Liar, it’s practically impossible to forget the courtroom scene from the movie. Fletcher Reed (Jim Carrey) is forced to tell the truth, and well, being a lawyer . . . that doesn’t make easy for your job, especially someone who lies as often as he does. The physical comedy Carrey is able to produce is incomparable, and while over the top, is hilarious and very much a trademark of Carrey’s acting.

What are your favorite courtroom scenes? Which ones are the most memorable to you, and why?

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19 thoughts on “Five Memorable Courtroom Scenes

  1. Good! I saw you tweet this and I was like, “A Few Good Men” is on there or its a fail! LOL

    You pass with flying colors…

    I put two and two together and figured out To Kill a Mockingbird inspired this even before I read that 😀 Its that kind of movie! Make you want to write!

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    • Way to put two and two together, Fogs! 🙂 Haha – so true. I love that movie, and there’s no way it can’t NOT be on this list! So glad to know I passed, haha.

      To Kill a Mockingbird just IS that kind of movie that inspires you to want to write, and it makes you wonder if you’ll ever see that same kind of movie or performance (Gregory Peck) again. There’s little to compare it to today. Thanks for commenting, Fogs!

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  2. I LOVE that you’ve included Liar, Liar and Legally Blonde’s courtroom scenes in here. They’re stand outs for me! Especially Jim Carrey’s total mental freak out in Liar Liar. Jim Carrey at his best!

    Definitely agree with Dan, the one from A Few Good Men is made for this list. How to make a courtroom scene sizzle!

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    • Oh yes! As much as I enjoy finally checking out a classic, I can’t exclude more recent goodies like those two films 🙂 Same here! Jim Carrey is absolutely hilarious in Liar Liar.

      Yes, indeed! A Few Good Men is a must for a courtroom scene movie list!

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  3. Hi Kris!! It was awesome seeing you last Sunday and how funny that you have just seen the best work of my beloved Gregory Peck! 😀 I love how original your posts are, and this one is certainly one of them. Great picks all around, TKAM certainly ranks high on this list, but I do love Legally Blonde as well, Reese was so perfect in that role. Oh and A Few Good Men is great too, and yes, ‘You can’t handle the truth!’ is a memorable line indeed. Great stuff!

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    • Hey there! It was, indeed! I know, right – I knew you would be proud of me for finally seeing To Kill a Mockingbird (starring yo man!). Haha, why thanks – you give me more credit than you ought to. Yep – I just picked the ones I remembered. I’m sure there are more out there that are more memorable to other people, but these were mine. 🙂

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  4. Wow I’ve only seen Liar Liar out of all these. Very shameful. Most keen to see To Kill a Mockingbird but also probably need to try and get round to A Few Good Men. I love the courtroom stuff in A Time to Kill. There’s a lot in the film and one of the scenes towards the end is absolutely brilliant. Highly recommended if you haven’t seen it.

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    • Haha, no reason to be ashamed, Pete! I’m sure there are plenty of movies you’ve seen that I haven’t. Heck, I just got around to seeing To Kill a Mockingbird, and I’m pretty sure I caught A Few Good Men on TV, so I got lucky there 🙂

      Nice – I have heard only good things about A Time To Kill. It’s been on my need-to-see list for a while now. Thanks for the recommendation, Pete!

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  5. I totally agree with Pete–A Time to Kill should definitely be added to this list. I love all the other picks though. I heard Primal Fear is definitely one we should add to watching list too, Kris!

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    • Haha, thanks, Castor! Yeah, for me, Legally Blonde was easily one of the first movies to come to my mind when I thought about courtroom scenes. I couldn’t help but include it.

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  6. For me, there are three court room scenes which I think of first – the first two are Stanley Kramer movies (JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG & INHERIT THE WIND), two different courtrooms, both with Spencer Tracy, both of them taut with tension. The other is WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, mostly because Marlene Dietrich’s line-reading of “Damn you!” is seared in my head.

    I love your choices, though, particularly LIAR, LIAR which is filled with so many gems. Swoozie Kurtz and Jim Carrey facing is hilarious, the acerbic judge thrills, but the highlight is Tilly who is just incredibly on point as the not-so-dumb not-a-blonde.

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    • Hi Andrew! Welcome to the site. Man, I feel pretty inequipped when I have not seen ANY of those three films you mentioned! I will have to add them to my long and ever growing list of movies to see.

      Very true about Liar, Liar. Utterly hilarious, very memorable. Thanks for commenting!

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