Author Archives: Popcorn Law

2015 Bridge of Spies

Venue: cinema
Legal Pops: insurance lawyer, criminal defense, hated lawyerEdward James Hyland as Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Directed by Steven Spielberg

From the website: “A dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events, DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 Pictures’ “Bridge of Spies” tells the story of James Donovan, a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible task to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. Screenwriters Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen have woven this remarkable experience in Donovan’s life into a story inspired by true events that captures the essence of a man who risked everything and vividly brings his personal journey to life.”


From Wikipedia: “Donovan, a lawyer who specializes in insurance settlements, is asked by his partners to take on Abel’s defense: he must be seen to get a fair trial to reduce the incident’s value as Soviet propaganda. He meets with Abel in prison, where Abel agrees to accept his help, though he steadfastly refuses to admit guilt or cooperate with the US government.

Although Donovan takes his work seriously, no one – including the prosecuting attorneys, the judge, his firm, or even his own family – expects him to actually seek an acquittal. His efforts are met with shock and anger by the American public, he is deluged with hate mail, and an attempt is made on his life, but he continues to fight.”

Tom Hanks: “I’m an insurance lawyer.”


ABA Journal – October 15, 2015 – “With a self-assured attorney squarely at the helm, director Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies leaps from the shadows straight to the courtroom, then to the battlefield and back again, never once wavering from firmly held beliefs in democracy, diplomacy and the rule of law—which is why this is a film to watch, especially for lawyers.”


1948 Force of Evil

Venue: Cinema
Legal Pops:
Crooked Lawyer, Law Office Scenes, Lawyer with Pistol

Force of Evil (1948)“Garfield is perfectly cast as Joe Morse, a lawyer whose connection to a ruthless racketeer has nearly destroyed his sense of morality. His participation in a rigged numbers racket could prove disastrous for his high-strung brother (superbly played by Thomas Gomez), whose small-time policy bank stands to go broke when the rigged numbers pay off. Writer and director Abraham Polonsky (in his directorial debut) was later victimized by the Hollywood blacklist, curtailing a promising career.”

1935 Star of Midnight

Venue: cinema
New York lawyer as sleuth, debonair lawyer

Star of Midnight (1935)William Powell plays “a debonair lawyer suspected in the murder of a nosy newspaper columnist. Aided by classy, sassy, marriage-minded Rogers, he untangles the Manhattan maze of double-crosses, disguises and mis-directions without disarranging his dinner jacket – or bruising his gin.”

A Free Soul – On Warner Instant


On Warner Instant

Stephen Ashe is a hotshot California lawyer from a well-to-do family. When he wins a case for mobster Ace Wilfong, he invites Wilfong to a party being thrown at his parents’ house to celebrate. At the party, Wilfong meets Stephen’s daughter, Jan, and they run off together. Stephen attempts to lure his wild daughter away from her criminal boyfriend, but she fights him at every turn. Lionel Barrymore won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Ashe. Others in the stellar cast include Academy Award-winner Clark Gable as Ace Wilfong, and Norma Shearer as Jan.

Note: HD streaming available through a Roku set-top box.

  • Cast: Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, Norma Shearer, James Gleason, Leslie Howard
  • Director: Clarence Brown
  • Genre: Popcorn Law
  • Studio: MGM

Ebert (RIP) didn’t much like to munch on popcornlaw

From this article in Above the Law:

Roger Ebert passed away last week, robbing us of a great film critic and an equally insightful social critic. Ebert loved the movies and his critical ire was only raised when films failed to live up to the standards he’d set in his own mind.

But one genre of film seemed to give Ebert consistent fits — the legal movie. From drama to comedy, if the film found its way into a courtroom, Ebert was likely on the wrong side of public opinion.

Wanna-be lawyers eat way too much popcornlaw

From “Law school is a sham,” by Stephen J. Harper (

For most lawyers, the idea of pursuing a legal career comes early in life. One-third of respondents to a survey of recent applicants said that they had wanted to attend law school since childhood and, while still in high school, made the decision to apply after college. Another third made the decision as undergraduates, in either their freshman or sophomore year. One reason for this phenomenon is the media: popular images make a legal career look attractive to young people long before they get to college. Any middle school student who reads “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1960) or “Inherit the Wind” (1955) takes in an image of the admirable lawyer-statesman. Recent portrayals include the CBS hit series “The Good Wife,” which continues a legacy of noble lawyers in television dating back to Perry Mason and proceeding through “The Defenders,” “L.A. Law,” “Law & Order,” and others. Every week, an episode of “The Good Wife” focuses on junior associate Alicia Florrick, a single mom who was raising two teenagers by herself until her philandering husband, a former state’s attorney, got out of jail near the end of the first season. Regularly she finds herself in tense courtroom scenes cross-examining key witnesses in high-stakes trials. While making a lot of money, she finds clever ways to unearth critical facts, reveal truth, and vindicate clients. Then she goes home every evening in time for dinner with her kids.

Commentary: The New Yorker

“The Good Wife” went at its theme sideways, with cunning and great TV craftsmanship. With her helmet of hair and black-slash eyebrows, Julianna Margulies’s Florrick was a mysterious figure, gifted at hiding motives, even from herself. In the first episode, she was still recovering from the press conference at which her husband, Peter (Chris Noth), the Cook County state attorney, had confessed to having sex with prostitutes. The press nicknamed her St. Alicia, a sneer embossed on a pedestal. While Peter was in jail, awaiting trial for corruption, she took a job as a junior litigator,

via Julianna Margulies on CBS’s “The Good Wife” : The New Yorker.