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...And Justice for All (film)

...And Justice For All
original movie poster
Directed by Norman Jewison
Produced by Norman Jewison
Patrick J. Palmer
Written by Valerie Curtin
Barry Levinson
Starring Al Pacino
Jack Warden
John Forsythe
Lee Strasberg
Music by Dave Grusin
Cinematography Victor J. Kemper
Edited by John F. Burnett
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • June 29, 1979 (1979-06-29)
Running time
119 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4 million
Box office $33,300,000[1]

...And Justice for All is a 1979 courtroom drama film, directed by Norman Jewison, and starring Al Pacino, Jack Warden, John Forsythe, and Lee Strasberg. Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Lahti, Craig T. Nelson, and Thomas G. Waites appear in supporting roles. The Oscar-nominated screenplay was written by Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson.

The film includes a well-known scene in which Pacino's character shouts, "You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!" It was filmed in Baltimore, including the courthouse area. It received two Academy Award nominations: Best Leading Actor (Pacino) and Best Original Screenplay (Curtin and Levinson).


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Reception 4
  • Popular culture 5
  • References 6
    • Bibliography 6.1
  • External links 7


Arthur Kirkland (Al Pacino), a defense attorney in Baltimore, is in jail on a charge of contempt of court for having thrown a punch at judge Henry T. Fleming (John Forsythe) while arguing the case of Jeff McCullaugh (Thomas G. Waites), who was stopped for a minor traffic offense but then mistaken for a killer of the same name and has already spent a year and a half in jail, as Kirkland continues his efforts to have the case reviewed against Fleming's resistance. Though there is strong new evidence that Jeff is innocent, Fleming refuses McCullaugh's appeal due to a minor technicality and leaves him in prison.

After being released, Arthur takes another case, that of transgender individual Ralph Agee (Robert Christian), arrested for small crime and becoming a victim of the legal system. When not working, Arthur pays regular nursing home visits to his grandfather Sam (Lee Strasberg), who is becoming senile. It is revealed that Arthur was abandoned by his parents at a young age, and it was Sam who raised him and put him through law school. Arthur also begins a romance with a legal ethics committee member, Gail Packer (Christine Lahti). His grandfather gives him advice such as "If you're not honest, you're nothing."

One day, Arthur is shocked to find himself requested to defend Fleming, who to everyone's surprise has been accused of brutally assaulting and raping a young woman. The two loathe each other, but Fleming feels that having the person who publicly hates him argue his innocence will be to his advantage. Fleming blackmails Kirkland with an old violation of lawyer-client confidentiality, for which Arthur likely will be disbarred if it ever comes to light. Gail confirms this off the record.

Judge Francis Rayford (Jack Warden), who has a friendly relationship with Arthur, takes him for a hair-raising ride in his personal helicopter over the harbor and Fort McHenry, laughing as he tests how far they can possibly go without running out of fuel, while a terrified Arthur begs him to land immediately. Rayford, a veteran of the Korean War, is borderline suicidal and keeps a rifle in his chambers at the courthouse, a 1911 pistol in his shoulder holster at all times, and eats his lunch out on the ledge outside his window, four stories up.

Arthur's friend and partner, Jay Porter (Jeffrey Tambor), is also unstable. He feels guilt from gaining acquittals for defendants who were truly guilty of violent crimes, appearing drunk at Arthur's apartment when one commits another murder after his acquittal. After a violent breakdown at the courthouse, throwing plates at people in the courthouse, Jay is taken to a hospital. Before leaving in the ambulance, a distracted Arthur asks Warren Fresnell (Larry Bryggman), another lawyer friend and partner, to handle Ralph's court hearing in his absence. Arthur gives Warren a corrected version of Ralph's probation report and stresses that Warren must show the corrections to the judge so that Ralph will get probation rather than jail time.

Unfortunately, Warren forgets to appear on time, fails to show the judge the corrected report, and Ralph is sentenced to jail. Arthur is livid and attacks Warren's car with his briefcase. When Warren argues that Ralph's trial was nothing but "nickels and dimes" and beneath him, Arthur reminds him that "they're people". He then reveals that 30 minutes after he was sentenced, Ralph hanged himself, causing Warren to feel remorse.

Jeff, abused by fellow prisoners (including multiple rapes), finally snaps and takes two hostages. Arthur pleads with him to surrender, promising to get him out, but police snipers shoot and kill Jeff when he moves in front of a window, as Arthur looks on in horror.

A clearly disturbed Arthur takes on Fleming's case, which Rayford and a jury will hear in court. He tries to talk the prosecuting attorney, Frank Bowers (Craig T. Nelson) into throwing the case out; Bowers, whose obsession with convicting criminals borders on sadistic, recognizes the prestige that convicting a judge would earn him and refuses to back down. Arthur meets with another client, Carl, who gives him incriminating photographs that show Fleming engaged in BDSM acts with a prostitute. Gail warns him not to betray a client, revealing that the ethics committee has been keeping their eye on him ever since the contempt of court incident. He shows the pictures to Fleming, who freely admits he is guilty of the rape.

As the trial opens, Fleming makes a casual remark to Arthur about wanting to rape the victim again, which pushes an already disgusted Arthur to the breaking point. In his opening statement, Arthur begins by mocking Bowers' case while speculating on the ultimate objective of the American legal system. He appears to be making a strong case to exonerate Fleming but unexpectedly, he bursts out and says that the prosecution is not going to get Fleming, because he is going to get him: "My client, the honorable Henry T. Fleming, should go right to fucking jail! The son of a bitch is guilty!"

Rayford shouts that Arthur is "out of order," to which Arthur replies, "You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial's out of order!" Arthur is dragged out of the courtroom, venting his rage all the way and condemning Fleming for his and the legal system's abuse of law and order that cost the lives of his two clients and let true criminals like Fleming go free. As the courtroom spectators (including Gail) cheer for Arthur, Fleming sits down in defeat, and a fed-up Rayford storms out.

In the end, Arthur sits on the courthouse's steps, knowing his antics will probably cost him his career in law but will presumably put Fleming in jail. A supposedly cured Jay passes by and tips his wig to Arthur in greeting, leaving him sat on the steps in disbelief. The madness will clearly continue.



The film was filmed in Baltimore, including the courthouse area, the Washington Monument of the Mount Vernon district, and Fort McHenry.[2] Pacino practiced the "You're out of order!" scene 26 times at the building ledge.[3]


...And Justice for All opened to critical acclaim and box office success. Produced on a modest budget of $4 million, it grossed over $33.3 million in North America,[1] making it the 24th highest grossing film of 1979. The film received mostly positive reviews from critics, earning an 81% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 26 reviews.[4] Brian W. Fairbanks in the book The Late Show called the film's screenplay "overly contrived", despite Pacino's "trademark" phrase in the courtroom.[5] Out of 30 points, Zagat gave the film 23 overall, acting 26, and story and production 22 each.[6] (20–25 represents "very good to excellent"; 26–30 represent "extraordinary to perfection".[7]) The Empire magazine called it a "solid but slightly clichéd courtroom drama" and rated it three stars out of five.[8]

Kirkland's opening courtroom statement in the film ending, including the whole phrase, "You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!", has been often discussed. Filmsite named the ending one of the Best Film Speeches and Monologues.[9] MSN Canada noted that the whole phrase is one of the top 10 "misquoted movie lines".[10]

The film received two Academy Award nominations, for Best Actor in a Leading role (Pacino) and for Best Original Screenplay (Curtin and Levinson).[11] Pacino also received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.[11]

Popular culture

The line "You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!" has been parodied many times in popular media.


It was also used in the series Two and a Half Men by the character Alan (Jon Cryer) when trying to hide from his son Jake (Angus T. Jones) that he might have a daughter, he shouts to Jake: "You're my daughter, I'm your daughter, this whole court is out of daughter," and in the T.V. sitcom "Martin" where Martin Lawrence portrays the character "Bob from marketing" during a work party that takes place in Pam and Gina's hotel room. Martin calls the room and asks for Gina when Bob picks up the phone and states "Gina's ripping the pants off some stripper; Gina's out of control! I'm out of control! This whole damn party's out of control!"

Another reference is in the series The Big Bang Theory, where Howard Wolowitz (played by impressionist Simon Helberg) does an impersonation of Pacino while inviting Bernadette and Penny to play Dungeons and Dragons with them by saying "You're playing DnD. You're playing DnD. This whole apartment is playing DnD."


  1. ^ a b
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  6. ^ Zagat 2010, pp. 4, 37.
  7. ^ Zagat 2010, p. 4.
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  11. ^ a b
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External links

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