Movie titles tread a fine line. They have to sufficiently capture the movie without giving away too much while providing both an intriguing and marketable moniker. In an innocuous cutaway gag in season 7 episode 12 of Family Guy, Peter Griffin comments on the joy and contrivances of hearing movie titles in the dialogue of the movies themselves. Often it’s perfectly reasonable, but sometimes there’s an interesting story lying beneath the surface. In this ongoing series, we intend to shed some light on these examples.
…And Justice For All
While there are many law films that focus on the people behind the clauses and statutes, highlighting societies prejudice, or look at one erroneous element of the law, it’s rare to find a film that looks at the institution itself. …And Justice For All is that film, turning the sights directly on the American legal system and its problems; from self-minded lawyers to corrupt judges by way of nonsensical loopholes, it shines a light on the capitalist running of the whole enterprise that, despite thirty years of age, still remains unchanged today.
Al Pachino plays a lawyer unable to help those who need it and forced to defend the despicable thanks to legal bullying. It’s not necessarily a case of the good lawyer in a sea of bad’uns, rather a moral one trapped by sleaze. Despite its serious message, Justice borders on comedy, finding humour in the system’s contradictions, making this almost a laugh inducing satire on a parallel with Dr Strangelove (there we laughed at nuclear annihilation, here we laugh at a rape trial).
The film is most famous for its iconic misquote ‘You’re out of order! etc.’ that has endured thanks to its screaming summing up of the film’s themes. What the constant referencing doesn’t get to is the depression the quote imbues; Pachino screams it as he is removed from court, his de-barring imminent, leaving the crazy system unaltered.
Ah, They Said It: The title comes from the Pledge of Allegiance, which is recited in various place throughout America, including the court rooms. It’s a symbol for what the legal system represents, highlighting just how different the truth actually is.
The film opens with children saying the pledge, which ends on ‘and justice for all’. Set against slow shots of courts, the innocence hangs over the films darker themes (including the contrasting, immediately following abuse of a transvestite).
It is said again in the film’s dialogue during Pachino’s closing tirade (the same one as the revered quote). By this point he’s lost all faith in the system and its quoting is a sad reminder of the corruption we’ve witnessed.