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Film: Presumed Innocent

1990 Courtroom Drama/Thriller starring Harrison Ford with Raul Julia, Brian Dennehy and Bonnie Bedelia in supporting roles and scored by John Williams.

After prosecuting attorney Carolyn Polehmus (Greta Scacchi) is found murdered, deputy prosecutor Rozat 'Rusty' Sabich is assigned to investigate. However Sabich had been having an affair prior to her murder and is deeply conflicted. After he digs too deep and uncovers corruption at the highest levels of the judicial system, Sabich finds himself accused of the murder and must fight to clear his name.

The Film of the Book with the same name by Scott Turow. Some twenty years later Turow wrote a sequel, Innocent.

Tropes Include

  • Abusive Parents: One of the cases prosecuted by Sabich.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Carolyn is an unfettered careerist. Raymond gradually betrayed his principles to remain in office.
  • Amoral Attorney: The rule rather than the exception.
  • Asshole Victim: Carolyn Polehmus
  • Book Ends: Shots of an empty courtroom as Rusty muses on justice and his role as a prosecutor.
  • Broken Pedestal: Sabich is betrayed by Horgan, his mentor.
  • Captain Obvious: Sabich tells his lawyer that he is innocent and quickly regrets it, because the assumption is an implicit rule of the profession.
  • Clear My Name: Sabich demands this.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Twisted, the coroner is tainted by the prosecution to present Sabich in a bad light.
  • Crusading Lawyer: The young Sabich.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Alluded by Sabich's frustrated wife
  • Destroy the Evidence: The glass and Lipranzer, eager to enforce a Let Off by the Detective.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind
  • Femme Fatale: Carolyn
  • 555: On the bribery file; the subject of the bribery file later gives out such a number.
  • Friend on the Force: Detective Lipranzer, a crucial ally to Sabich.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Sabich's wife killed Carolyn as revenge for the affair with Rosat, only to have him arrested and tried for murder, which she tearfully insists she didn't intend to happen
  • Hello, Attorney!: Carolyn Polhemus, played by a 30 years old Greta Scacchi. Sabich, played by Harrison Ford.
  • Lady Macbeth: Carolyn goads Rusty to force Raymond into retirement. She loses all interest in him the very moment Sabich outright refuses her plans to betray his mentor.
  • Law Procedural
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: A variation is the main plot, a cold murder is camouflaged as a date that got violent.
  • May-December Romance: Carolyn and Raymond, Carolyn and Judge Larren Lyttle.
  • Mistaken Confession: When Sabich sarcastically snarls, "Yeah, you're right" in response to another lawyer's outright accusing him of Carolyn's murder—and the nitwit promptly declares his intent to testify at the trial. The judge reads him the riot act for either being so stupid as to believe Sabich was actually confessing, or so unethical as to know he was being sarcastic but intending to use it as evidence anyway.
  • Motive Misidentification: See Red Herring below.
  • My God, You Are Serious: Sabich says this verbatim as he's hauled into an office and accused of Carolyn's murder. He scoffs at first, but as one of the prosecutors continues to list the evidence against him and another warns him not to say anything without an attorney present, he realizes he's in trouble.
  • No Communities Were Harmed; Set in the fictional 'Kindle County' most likely a stand in for Chicago
  • Posthumous Character: Carolyn Polehmus
  • Really Gets Around: Carolyn Polehmus
  • Red Herring: All the political intrigue surrounding Carolyn Polehmus. It really comes down to a classic and simple scenario: a married man has an affair. The mistress is murdered. The man is innocent. So who is guilty...?
    • as well as Sabich's harrassment of Carolyn, indicative of his obsession with her. Not until the end of the film do we learn for certain that he's not her killer.
  • The Reveal
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Sabich's attorney implies to the judge that information about his corruption would be revealed if the trial goes on.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Inverted by Sabich. His prosecutor thinks it gets played straights but the judge rebukes him.
  • Sex for Services: Manipulative Carolyn uses sex as a tool to advance in her career.
  • Spousal Privilege: A plot point. Played with and invoked.
  • Woman Scorned: Leads to Murder the Hypotenuse
  • Your Cheating Heart: In the backstory, Sabich cheated on his wife with Carolyn (and this is shown in flashback).

PhiladelphiaLaw ProceduralThe Rainmaker
Pacific HeightsFilms of the 1990sPretty Woman

alternative title(s): Presumed Innocent
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