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Hollywood on Trials: Courts and Films, 1930-1960 Author(s): Norman Rosenberg Reviewed work(s): Source: Law and History Review, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 341-367 Published by: American Society for Legal History Stable URL: . Accessed: 18/12/2012 22:12
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Hollywood on Trials: Courts and Films, 1930-1960

As long as legal scholarshipfocused on traditionalsources that were considered "distinctivelylegal,"' a great variety of "legal texts" were consignedto scholarsin otherdisciplines.Thus, OliverWendellHolmes, Jr.(1841-1932) and his classicwork The CommonLaw (1881) appeared safely inside the categorical"box"identifiedas distinctivelylegal,while Louis Calhern's portrayalof Holmes and the film The Magnificent Yankee(MGM, 1950) fell outside. In recent years, however,both the inside/outsidedistinctionand the legal box metaphor have become increasinglysuspect. Drawing upon theories,which highlightthe discursiveand represenpost-structuralist tational dimensions of law,2a varietyof differentprojectsseek to locate the diverse places at which legal rhetoricand imageryare constituted. This body of work articulates pluralisticview of legal scholarshipa
1. The term "distinctivelylegal"and the model of"inside" and "outside"modes of J. legal history are developed in RobertW. Gordon, "Introduction: WillardHurst and the Common LawTraditionin AmericanLegalHistoriography," and SocietyReview Law 10 (1975): 9-10. 2. For recent, broadly focused uses of such post-structuralist approaches,see, for Postmodern example, Costas Douzinas and Ronnie Warrington (with ShaunMcVeigh), The Jurisprudence: Law of Textin the Textof Laws (New York:Routledge, 1991) and Ann Norton, Republicof Signs:LiberalTheoryandAmericanPopularCulture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), esp. 139-54. In addition to the works cited for

Norman Rosenberg is DeWitt Wallace Professor of History at Macalester College.An earlierversion of this articlewas presentedat the 1993Convention of the Organizationof AmericanHistorians.The authorwishes to thank other panel members-Michael Grossberg,Eve Kornfield, David R. Papke, and Amy Dru Stanley-and those who attended the session for their comments. He also wishes to thanktwo readersfor thisjournal,LaryMay,David Rabban, Linda Schulte-Sasse,Emily Rosenberg,and Clay Steinman for their expert comments on earlier drafts of this article.
? 1994 by the Boardof Trusteesof the Universityof Illinois

LawandHistory Review 1994,Vol.12,No. 2 Fall

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1993). for example. 1990). theoreticalargumentabout the nature of today's postmodem informationalsetting. Post-Structuralism Beyond(New York: Routledge. Coombe. Balkin.for example.eds. In Searchof a Context(Ithaca:Corell University Press.6and to readingsof Hollywoodfilms and television.2d ed.FrankLentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin. 6."Coombe suggestsattentionto discussionsof celebrities. Universityof TorontoPress. which invokes the psychological theory of Jacques Lacan to suggestthat "legal process and institutions.. ContestedCulture:The Image. 7. "Foucault'sExpulsionof Law:Towarda Retrieval. . The Mode of Information(New York. See. "Room for Manoeuver Towarda Theory of Practicein CriticalLegal Studies" Law and Social Inquiry 14 (1989): 115-16.1992). 3. Evidence:Discoursesof Subjectivityin the Trial and Rosanne Kennedy. 1989). Austin Saratand Thomas Kears. For a broad. such as Court TV.5 disputesthat arisein everydaylife. eds.. (New York:Routet al."4 Jettisoningthe model implicitlyretainedby Hunt. "are just another set of images and texts alongside others in social life. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Alan Hunt. though he remainscautiousabout Michel Foucault'swork on law. RosemaryCoombe legal/extralegal would go furtherto look "beyondconventionallydefinedlegal forums" and to consider how discoursesabout law may be "reproduced. Explorationsin Law and Society:Towards a ConstitutiveTheoryof Law (New York:Routledge.and the Law (ChapelHill: University of North CarolinaPress. M. 5.see generally. see MarkPoster.which are circulatedthroughthe mass media-that are becoming "the common forms of discourseand benchmarksof expectationsabout law among the lay public. legiin timized and possiblyreconfigured behaviorsand interpretations not typicallyconsideredlegalpractices.Lawrence CaryNelson.Robert in New Vocabularies Film Semiotics:StructurBurgoyne. and See also David S.' in one sense at least. The Voice.1992). 1993).J.. (emphasisadded). Gaines. Caudill. Law and Social 4. 1994)." Urgingthat studentsof law rethink "what is distinctivelylegal about the forms of argumentationwe are to examining. The Law in Everyday Life (Ann Arbor:University of MichiganPress. M. Alan Hunt."Spectacular This content downloaded on Tue. J." Inquiry 17 (1992): 32.Jane M. for example. See. Rosemary J."3 Alan Hunt. Cultural Studies(New York:Routledge.and Tim O'Sullivan and CulturalStudies.." 'Name-of-the-Father' the Logic of Psychosis:Lacan's Law and Ours" Legal Studies Forum 16 (1993): 433.and Sandy Flitterman-Lewis. See also. and alism. still agreesthat "law has never been a unitary discoursebut has always involved a range of discoursesconnected to and competing with a range of extralegaldiscourses. ciology(Toronto: and PaulaTreichler. 1991).7 MarkPoster.342 Law and History Review and of law itself. 1991). Critical Terms LiteraryStudy (Chicago:University of for Soa Chicago Press. Key Conceptsin Communication ledge. 1990).calls attentionto the emergence of "law bites"-those visual texts..CriticalTheory Post-Structuralism: and specificpropositions.RobertStam. Ann Game. Undoingthe Social: Towards Deconstructive Grossberg. Balkin "WhatIs a PostmodernConstitutionalism?" Michigan Law Review 90 (1992): 1981.

Althoughwhat might be called the law and film enterprisebears some affinityto the more establishedlaw and literature differences between venture. (rev. 1993) This content downloaded on Tue. Bill of Rights. AnthonyChase. this article will use recent interdisciplinary work in both cinematic and legal studies to cross-examine six films from the heyday of classical Hollywood cinema. N. 852-70 (on "L.Y. ed. see David Bordwell. Hollywood films. this article will highlight films that I call "law noirs. for example.Law's Form.thereare significant the two projects."Normativityand the Politics of Law Review139 (1991):801. the late 1930s to the late 1950s. that focus upon courtroom trials. PierreSchlag." Cineaste 19 (1993): 32. Finally.."Lawyers Culture:A Review of Mass Media Portrayalsof AmericanAttorneys. For a particularly strong (or argumentfor this view.eds."University Pennsylvania of Empire"). and John Denvir. CynthiaLucia. law and literaturework generallyfocuses on canonized texts. 9. PostmodernJurisprudence. 44. Although the term noir is sometimes limited to films releasedduring the 1940s and 1950s."Lawand Literature. of Film Chapter11.entitled "LegalReelism: The Hollywood Film as LegalText" 15 (1991). Although a variety of motion pictures from this era feature courtroom sequences. First. See. "Womenon Trial: of The Female Lawyerin the Hollywood Courtroom. 205-43 on Billy Budd. the search for examples of "law in literature"has generallybeen closely related to reading"law as literature"-that is."Law and Critique3 (1992): 18. See. such as Franz Kafka'sThe Trial and HermanMelville'sBilly Budd.Meanwhile. as Ian Ward has recently noted. Woodstock. fromdifferent theoretical perspectives."See also DeborahKnight. criticalview of Americanlife and institutions. and the Promise of Post-Moder HistoLaw and HistoryReview 12 (1994): 1.8 Extending the trend. 1988) in adoptinga broaderview of this group of films.see Saul Cornell. a body of Hollywood films.ed. which argues that "law is in an increasinglyincongruousposition: it vainly attempts to isolate the real in an era in which reality is becoming rapidlyindistinguishable from its fictionalrepresentations'." AmericanBar FoundationResearchJournal(1986): 281. to applyingthe techniquesof literarycriticismto traditionallegaltexts." Lawand Critique (1993):43. Second. 58-69. Two recent essay collections-Ian Cameron."New LiteraryHistory24 (1992): 321."9Adopting a narrative structure of John Hinckley...ed.Making Meaning:Inferenceand Rhetoric in the Interpretation Cinema (Cambridge:Harvard University Press. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . "On the PopularImage of the Lawyer:Reflectionsin a Glass and Popular Darkly. a new mode of scholarship seeks to investigate motion pictures as legal texts." 8.that featurednarrativesabout crime and a dark(hence the term noir). among others. "LegalismUnreeled" (unpublishedmanuscript).therearesignificant 4 differences between "reading" "makingmeaning"of) printedand filmic texts."Reconsidering Theory and Method. I have followed.Robert Post. first identifiedby critics in France. see the special issue of Legal Studies Forum. "WhyNot to Read a Film.:Overlook Press.Hollywood on Trials 343 Indeed. Forlegalscholarship that addresses. esp. Film Noir: An EncyclopedicReferenceto the AmericanStyle. I employ the term law noir to signify a subset of the celebratedfilm noirs. "Moving Beyond the Canon of TraditionalConstitutional the History: Anti-Federalists.A. Alain Silver and ElizabethWard. 1989). riography. The Book of Film Noir (New York:Continuum. for example.students of film are becoming increasinglyinterestedin representations law." CaliforniaLaw Review75 (1987): 379. IanWard. For an essay that invokes post-structuralist scholarshipto re-examinethe eighteenth century. Douzinas and Warrington.

YaleLaw Journal 100 (1991): 1855. films such as TwelveAngry Men Put and The YoungPhiladelphiansfirst highlighta court trial as a means for providingrelativelyassuredand authoritative"closureto a narrative" and second representa courtroomas a special. especiallya court trial. 64-74. 192-95. I begin with two conventional trial films." 10.I have benefitedimmensely from Dana Polan.ed. esp. ClarkD. Shades of Noir (London:Verso. Representationas Text: Towardsan Ethnography Legal Discourse. In subdividingthe largerfilm noir cycle to highlightcertainsub-cycles.For a critical and self-reflexive see "The Lawyeras Transanalysisof the translationmetaphor. See also. 43 and EdwardBranigan. These six films can be viewed in terms of two and Joan Copjec. Bordwell."10 simply. 1993)-provide valuableguides to film a means for resolvingnarrative complications and second. see Norman Rosenberg. 1993). as Bordwellargueselsewhere.and the American Cinema (New York: Columbia University Press. For a differentapproachto this sub-cycleof films.344 Law and History Review that recalls film noir itself. FrankKrutnik. Power and Paranoia:History.Narrative..Justice as Translation(Chicago:University of ChicagoPress. employing a "flashback" four law noirs from the 1930s and 1940s-Stranger to on the ThirdFloor (1940)."Law Noir. "Conversing About Justice'. 1986). O'Sullivan. Cunningham. and of 1992). Of course. translated-into the specialized discourses that are the domain of legal professionals. releasedtowardthe end of the periodI wantto examine. a critical review of James Boyd White's."Cornell Law Review 77 (1992): 1298."in Denvir. 11. 74. Fury (1936). I do not mean to suggest This content downloaded on Tue.In a Lonely Street:Film Noir. (New 4th York:McGrawHill. 1990). 1989). 21-43.among I others. See also SanfordLevinson." In contrast. the degree to which any film text seems "open"or "closed"is a complex interpretive 42question. see David Bordwelland Kristin Thompson.NarrativeComprehension Film (New York:Routledge. In highlightingthe questions of translationand closure. esp. Genre. "LawUnreeled. 1992) and J.Key Concepts. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the ways in which classicalHollywood portrayedthe law. and Boomerang(1947)-I will contrastthe cinematic representations in these law noirs with those in The Young and Twelve Philadelphians AngryMen. I employ the metaphorof translationto signifythe processby which storiesand disputesfrom everydaylife becomeconverted-that is. Forbriefintroductionsto the issue of closure-or the textualstrategies means by of which a vieweris encouraged see the endingas offering relativelyclearresolution to a of issues and problemsraisedduringthe course of a narrative-in Hollywoodcinema. interrelated issues: first. public forum in which potentially troubling cultural questions about the specialized discoursesof legal professionalscan be laid to rest.In relatingthe issue of narrativeclosureto filmic representations trials. They Won't BelieveMe (1947). the ways in which films about law representproblematics of "legal translation. of lator. P. TwelveAngry Men (1957) and The YoungPhiladelphians(1959).Then. Film Art:An Introduction.Masculinity(New York: Routledge. Telotte. ed. follow. Voicesin the Dark: The NarrativePatternsof Film Noir (University of Illinois Press.Making Meaning.

Caryl Emerson and Michael Holmquist (Austin: University of Texas Press. Tony Lawrence (Paul Newman). Tony's real father is an IrishAmerican building contractor. Fearing that an aggressive defense strategy. Adapting the literary theories of Mikhail Bakhtin to film. a trial sequence allows a film to propose "an ultimately epochal test" for both larger cultural values and individual characters. By adding the "fundamental aura" of the law to a Hollywood narrative. Polan.I raise these two questions as specific examples of the largerclaim about the value of using classical Hollywood films as sources for legal studies. revealing old hatreds between murder victim and defendant. The trial revives old conflicts. Film (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. might also bring scandal to the city's elite.Cultural Criticism. Suddenly. as applied to film. whom Tony had once cheated out of a law-firm clerkship. A politically ambitious district attorney.12 The Young Philadelphians epitomizesthe patternthat Polantheorizes by employing a legal trial to test the values of Philadelphia's ruling elite and the personal worth of a young attorney. Though raised in high society. For an extended analysis of Bakhtin'swork.Subversive Pleasures: and Bakhtin. see RobertStam. a cinematic trial helps to resolve a film's own narrative ambiguities. Tony ascends the city's legal ladder by shunning the values of the elite bar and by specializing in the loopholes of the tax code. Polan suggests that a trial sequence can provide an "assured source of narrative resolution. Nurtured by his selfless mother and propelled by his own ruthless ambition. authoritative law. 1989). not the socially prominent (but impotent) young man who had been briefly married to his widowed mother.Powerand Paranoia. a sensational murder trial.Hollywoodon Trials 345 noirs raise doubts about the ability of the trial process to achieve satisfactory closure and about the adequacy of legal language itself. Rather. trans.TheDialogicImagination. 388-410. See also MikhailBakhtin. 12. Filmic Representations in the 1950s: Twelve Angry Men and The YoungPhiladelphians: The YoungPhiladelphiansand TwelveAngryMen recallthe kind of classical Hollywood narrative highlighted by film scholar Dana Polan. This content downloaded on Tue. prominent Philadelphians pressure Tony that these are the only two legal issues articulatedin these six films.21-22. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ." By appealing to the ideal of a clear. provides Tony's initial courtroom test. is prosecuting this made-for-the-tabloids case in which a Korean Warveteran is charged with killing his wealthy uncle. involving a childhood friend (Robert Vaughan). 1982).

13 Relying upon favors availablethrough his father's skillscommensurate with his mother's politicalassociatesand rhetorical social status.the self-absorbed attorney's foray onto the public legal stage helps him find a social conscience. The Transformation AmericanLaw. the searchfor clear meaningsand stable points of referenceappearsfutile. A Certain Tendencyin the Hollywood Cinema (Princeton. passim. Tony'sprivateobligations-to his mother. After maximizing the tensions that a trial drama can provide.Tonyorchestrates brilliantcourtroomperformance. If he refuses to cooperate."See Morton J.providesa unique forum for overcoming both individualpassionsand interpretive difficulties. The prosecution'scase collapses. The legal process. destroysthe credibilityof the prosecution's eyewitness. a Mainline patriarchwarns. 14. Denying the film audience any view of the trial itself. TwelveAngryMen concentratesupon jurors who must determinethe guilt or innocence of a young man charged with murderinghis father. Evenin the absence 13. the murder victim's pompous butler.and the cause of justice-only appear to be in conflict. and gets a prominentphysicianto admit that what seemedto have been a murder was more likely a suicide. suggestingthe power of legal trials to resolve both public and privatedifficulties. The Young articulatesa view of law and society also found Philadelphians in elite legal cultureof the 1950s:that legal conflictscould easily be settled becauseof "the existence of a basic societal consensus on fundamentalvalues. he will reveal Tony'sillegitimatebirth.and his accusedfriend-and his publicresponsibilitiesto a client. N.however. Although TwelveAngryMen (1957) adoptsa very differentframefor the representing courtroomprocess-its very title suggestsconflictsnot touched upon in The YoungPhiladelphians-the film ultimatelysuggests an equally affirmingview of the law. 1985).J.'4 tax phians to reaffirmcommon values. Powerand Paranoia. a discovery that allows a reconciliationwith a long-time love (Barbara Rush). Here. his realfather. the couple embracein the courtroom.: PrincetonUniversity Press. The inscribesthe reconciliatory Young Philadelphians patternthatlong dominated classicalHollywood. see Polan. a Durhe ing skillful cross-examination. 31. which both public and patriarchal law come togetherat the end of a film. 1992). the legal profession. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Horwitz. quiet conviction. 251.'5Moreover. Robert Ray.346 Law and History Review to help stage a quick. This content downloaded on Tue. In the film's final shot. For an analysis of this narrativepattern.As jury-room debates become heated.24-25. The trialdemonstrates healingcapacitiesof the publiclaw system the and belatedly establishesTony as the moral center of the Lawrence The acquittalof Tony'sclient allows old and young Philadelfamily. 1870-1960: The Crisis of Legal Orof thodoxy(New York:Oxford University Press.

the specializedlegal discoursesof the lawyers and the judge.'8Althoughlegal realism."in Lary May. be read. "Gideon'sTrumpet: Sounding the Retreat from Legal Realism. consideronly one possiblehistorical theseearlier filmsmight counterpart.Transformation. see PeterBiskind. for example.1983). differencesover translatingambiguous social evidence into legal propositionscan be narrowedand. the late 1950s and early 1960s saw the "complete integrationof the virtuous-lawyer archetypein popularculture-an elaboratedimage unprecedented. ed. Rosenberg. Gideon's Trumpet(New York:Random House. I would.are so lucid that they can be translatedinto the languageof lay jurors. once-contending interests. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . which nicely stressesthe elitist strains in the film.17 Strangeron the ThirdFloor and Law Noir Law noirs from the late 1930s and 1940s offermuch less celebratory views of law than Twelve To AngryMen and The Young Philadelphians. 251. Anthony Lewis. See Horwitz. I want to emphasize that I am not advancing any claims about intentionality. within the existing history of mass culturaliconography" "Lawyers and PopularCulture" 284.the rainand darknessthat have been a constant backdropto the jury's deliberationsgive way to sunshine and clearing skies. For another powerful and popular narrative. that suggestslaw causation. 107.see Norman L.Hollywoodon Trials 347 of a preexistingsocial consensus and in the presenceof contested evidence. Both elite legal and broaderculturaldiscoursesof the 1950s called for faith in the processfor settling political and legal differences. Finally.Althoughthis could be linked to a consensus-oriented view. Fora broad. 17. 1989). resist any interpretation noirs reflected legal realism. settled..16 If people will talk through contested meanings. or origins. Without trying to suggest precisely how these culturallyconstructedtextual This content downloaded on Tue. For a readingthat seeks to highlightgaps within Lewis'snarrative. the process of "reasoned"deliberationcan generate a verdict that satisfies diverse. 16. which are not heard directly but only presented secondhand throughthe jury's own debates. ultimately. as populartexts about law. 18. in a number of ways.stressingboth the ability of the legal see processto achieveclosureand the dynamicsof a successfullegaltranslation. after a not guilty verdicthas been forged. TwelveAngry Men suggeststhat jury deliberationsmay even provide a microcosm of a larger democratic process. it could also standon its own.politicalreadingof TwelveAngryMen. More important. RecastingAmerica (Chicago:University of ChicagoPress. In the film's final shot.. 10-20. alongsidethe more familiartexts associatedwith the legal realismof the 1930s. 1964). I am suggestingthat.Seeing Is Believing(New York:Pantheon.. As Anthony Chase notes. the filmic discourses in law noirs seem to parallelthose found in certain modes of critical legal realism.

law noirs might also be read in light of recent literature that criticallyexamines traditionallegal materialsfrom the perspective of people whose "stories"become legal "cases. more broadly. 343. the period from the mid-1930s to the early 1960s." Legalwriting." Law Review 69 (1991): 1627. 159-78 remains the best startingpoint.ed.Cohen since circular. Law see Mark Tushnet. 1960). Gary Peller. LucyCohen (New Haven:Yale Legal Conscience: UniversityPress. See also. The classic account of storytelling ibid. William N. Felix Cohen. 1973). "Transcendental SelectedPapersof Felix S. Cohen.."The Problemof the Subject. for example. and Mark Tushnet. CaliforniaLaw Review 74 (1985): 1152. and Gary Peller.the specialissue on "LegalStorytelling" MichiganLaw Review Texas 87 (1989):2073. "The Degradationof ConstitutionalDiscourse. I see a value in talking about both law noirs and critical discussionsabout culturaldiscoursesthat as discoursesadded"precisely much to our knowledge Moliere'sphyas that opium puts men to sleep because it contains a sician's discovery In dormativeprinciple. realistJeromeFrank focused upon trial courts."21 Building upon the categories might link up..PierreSchlag."The Metaphysics of American Law. 21.20 In addition.featuredwordsand phrasesthat were "necessarily those terms are themselvescreationsof law. 1981).Princeton."Rather than adequately the representing social and economic contextsof specificdisputes. N. Eskridge."The New Public Law Movement:Moderationas a PostmodernCulturalForm. Horwitz.Jr.'9 importantstrand one of realism looked criticallyat the languagewith which courts tried to disputes." CaliforniaLaw Review 76 (1988): 465. Lance Bennett and MarthaS. "Networksand Bricolage:A AmericanAcademicJurisprudence. My own view relies heavily upon Gary Peller. highlightingtheir alleged failureto capture even the simplestfacts of the causesthat came beforethem."Reply.348 Law and History Review like film noir.Perhapsthe most famous criticalessay in represent"real-life" this vein. a project much too ambitious for this article. argued. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . See. This content downloaded on Tue.45. 46. Feldman."The Discourse of ConstitutionalDegradation..Reconstructing Justiceand Judgmentin AmericanCulture(New Brunswick: Reality in the Courtroom: RutgersUniversity Press.: PrincetonUniversity Press. and. 313. varrealism within broad-based ious forms.J. AmericanLegal Realism (New York: Oxford University Press." ibid.Edward Purcell." in the courtroom remains W. 74-94. This point is nicely developed in N." Prolegomenonto a History of Twentieth-Century AmericanJournal of Legal History 35 (1991): 307 in Nonsense and the FunctionalApproach.and Thomas Reed. Hull."Georgetown Journal 81 (1992): 251." a somewhatdifferent vein. The literature legalrealismis immense. 1973)." The 20.locatedprofessional legaltextswithin"a special branchof the scienceof transcendental nonsense. William W."MichiganLaw Review89 (1991): 707. E.signifiesa diverseset of discourses. 1194-1240. Joseph Singer. H. eds. JeromeFrank. For a pointed colloquy over the politics of storytelling.Courtson Trial(1949:repr. 1993) is an importantnew documentarycollection. by FelixCohen. 19.TheCrisisofDemocratic on Theory(Lexington:University of KentuckyPress. A. Morton J."LegalRealism Now. esp. Fisher III.

Approach to Difference:Unansweringthe Unasked. This approachcharacterizes importanttheme in recentlegalwriting.and unconventionallightingpatterns-the film visualizes the trial system as systematicallyunbalanced.though importantas a means of scrutinizing"insider" accounts. 12-13.Courtson Trial. Exclusion. esp. constitutive role of languageduringthe processin whichthe reallife concernsof "outsiders" are represented the specializedforms requiredby the legal discourses in of"insiders. Martha Minow."Text." Universityof Miami Law Review43 (1988): 493 (reviewingKristin Bumiller. "Minow'sSocial-Relations (1991):798. TheAlchemyof Race and Rights(Cambridge: HarvardUniversityPress. transthe Accordingto law professor lation metaphor.depicts a trial system that is literallyoff kilter. these "outsider"perspectives. "Speakingof Silence."22 ClarkCunningham.especially an in various feminist discoursesand in "CriticalRace Studies. the film parallelsthe realistcritiqueof JeromeFrankwho warned that virtuallyanyone could "be indicted and mistakenlyconvicted.Martha Minow. 1991). for example. As a number of writers have emphasized." 1299.1992)."how do meanings change?23 Might the narrativesconstructedin legal proceedings serve to silence.PatriciaWilliams. forexample. 46467.Borrowingsome of the expressionist devices found in Germancinema of the 1920s-including tilted cameraangles. and Katherine Bartlett."See."Law and Social Inquiry(1992): 437. In this sense. 23. for example.Context. suggeststhat their "storieswill 'inevitably'be transformedthrough the lawyer'srepresentation. Both Strangeron the ThirdFloor and Fury (directedby Fritz Lang). 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1990). 24. of 25.however.came from film makerswho had workedin Germanyand fled Nazism for the United States. See.25Two conventionally filmed segments frame a noir-like legal 22.See. For a demonstrationthat the same set of legal sourcescan generatedifferentlegal stories. 1988]). Making All the Difference:Inclusion."by implyingthat law is a languageforeign"to people who come before courts."Frank. "ReasonableEvidence of Reasonableness.Translation.flashbacks. Mary Joe Frug. for example. rather than to give voice to. are themselves socially constructedand historicallycontingent. 808-11. and AmericanLaw (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. voice-overs. BorisIngster's on Stranger the ThirdFloor(1940). people who find themselvesinvolved with law?24 How might attentionto representation and translationoffer interestingperspectiveson the differencebetween practicinglaw and doing justice? These kinds of contemporaryquestions."The Lawyeras Translator.Hollywoodon Trials 349 idea that doing law involves telling stories. Cunningham.Conversation"American Journal of Legal History 37 (1993): 409." CriticalInquiry 17 T. are also embeddedin many law noirs of the late 1930sand 1940s." Since "no sentence can be perfectly translated from one language to another. some scholarsemploy the metaphor of translationto emphasize the active. Mark Kelman.One might This content downloaded on Tue.The Civil Rights Society:The Social Construction Victims[Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Postmodern Legal Feminism(New York:Routledge. see PeterCharlesHoffer.

Forexamplesof law-reviewarticlesthat also use such discourses.of murderinghis irritatingneighbor. This content downloaded on Tue. Mike's arrest underscoresthe way in which Strangeron the Third Floor posits the indeterminacyof trial court evidence."Similarly. Mike'spublicobligationto testifyin courtbringspersonalcatastrophe. for everything.Briggs'strial.) standing over the body of a slain coffee shop indifferentdistrict attorney curtly dismisses Mike's theory that a mysteriousstrangeris responsiblefor both homicides. a cynical reporterconsoles him. Meng. for Stranger example.What has he really seen?Could the public legal processhave translatedhis personalvision Soon. Mike helps the prosecutionsecure a murder conviction and a death sentence againstthe defendant.on the basis of testimonysimilarto that he had given against Briggs."LegislativeControlof Political Extremismin EuropeanDemocraciesI.A young reporternamed Mike Ward(John McGuire)will both reportupon and testify in a sensationalmurdertrial. Later." Columbia Law Review 38 (1938): 591.he countersJane'sdoubtsby insistingthat "I did see" Briggsstandingover the murder victim. he imagines that he himself is unjustly convicted." though entirely circumstantial. read these films about law and mob behavioralongsidebroaderanti-fascistdiscourses of the 1930s. "Democracyand Defamation: Control of Group Libel. one wouldbe convicted. As Mike's testimony in the Briggscase becomes an issue. "If the courtshad to have an eyewitness no The evidenceagainstBriggs. he appears increasinglydefensive. His fiance Jane (Margaret Tallichet)immediatelyworriesthat the need for money to complete their weddingplans and Mike's own desire for journalisticfame may have scriptedhis testimony. and at least one juror who sharesthe judge's daytime sleepinghabits."It's what I saw with my own eyes. for example. and David Riesman. The nightmare throathas been slashed provesprophetic." is still entirely "reliable. incorrectly? in a surrealdream sequence.a judge who awakensfrom a snooze to rule upon a lawyer'smotion. Later. it is the reliabilityof what people testifyto having seenand the representation these visions within courtroomrituals-that of on the Third Floor critically interrogates. featuresan inept defenseattorney.Mr. Of course. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . By testifying that he saw Joe Briggs(Elisha Cook Jr. Mike begins to doubt his own eyes and mind until."ColumbiaLaw Review42 (1942): 727. "What am I supposed to do?" he asks."he tells other reporters.The police discountMike'sstoryabout seeing a mysteriousstranger(PeterLorre)near Meng'sroom and arrest Mike for this second murder.see Karl Lowenstein.350 Law and History Review nightmare.Mike findsthat his neighbor's and that he is the primesuspect."It's not a question of my word againsthis.

"I had to tell the truth."Makethem hearme. David Allen and Robert Jensen (New York:New York University Press. Severalyears later.. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Mike joins other noir protagonistsin recognizingthe possibilitythat their own speech. forthcoming). While he tries to tell his story-one that film spectatorsshare-the politically ambitious district attorney is photographed staring into a mirror."The Cultureof Free Expressionand the 'Popular'First Amendment' in Freeing the First Amendment.might mark him as Meng's "It'dbe a real pleasure"to cut Meng'sthroat.a filmdirectedby Abraham Polonsky. and Norman Rosenberg. The paranoiac. ChristineNoll Brinckman.You can't convict.But.the legal system seems incapableof corFinally."he shoutsto sleepingjurors and a disinterested testimony.27 26. see Jack Shadoian. may return to haunt them. and the cynical reportersall reappearto constructa nightmarishscenarioin which Mike is arrested. 134-48.Mike worriesthat his own past which Strangeron the Third Floor depicts Mike's noir dream."day-lit sequences. Mass..his fiance'sstraightforward about his threats against Meng.expressionist-influenced nightmaresequence unof legal translations. See. By aligningMike's vision of the stranger-and his view of the districtattorney-with that of film spectators."Mike's voice-overclaims. This content downloaded on Tue.: MIT Press."The Politics of Forceof Evil: Analysis of AbrahamPolonsky'sPreblacklistFilm. Dreams and Dead Ends (Cambridge. 27. Later. "it wasjust talk.Strangeron the ThirdFloor tries to make his terror theirown. On this importantlaw noir. for instance. telling a friend. when representedand translatedinto legal discourse. convicted in court. 1948). when translatedinto courtroomtestimony. Mike's imaginary trial seems a bizarremix of legal incompetenceand faithfuladherence to "neutral" process. As in the case in which he had just testified.the same noir techniquesare employed in Sullivan'sTravels (1941) to representan actual trial.examining his own reflection.ForceofEvil (MGM.During severalflashbacksequences. and led to the electric chair.he goes about an elaborateshavingritualthat seems as farremovedfromjustice as the courtroom ritualsin other parts of the film."Prospects6 (1981): 357.ed. recting its own errors. Thus. sentenced to death.he remembers murderer.Hollywoodon Trials 351 These critical representationsof law and courts lend credence to Joe Mike'sfearsof joining (if not replacing) Briggson deathrow. 116-19." after Mike's arrest. on that. 1977)." Briggscase. the befuddledjudge.The inept defense atderscoresthe problematics torney. "I'm sorryMichael. manages to offer a better representationof the trial process than the film's "normal. sardonicallymirrorshis own in the Janetells him. judge.26 The film's lengthy.just somethingyou say.tried in the press. it seems.

trial for murder. 29.28 Fury and the Challengeof Law Noir Fury (1936). like he. while a newsreelcameracrew recordsJoe's "final"moments for movie theater audiences. Joe falls victim to a frenziedmob that overpowersthe sheriffand sets fire to his jail. The first. BelatedlydiscoveringJoe's plight. the reunited couple hail a taxi to take them to their new apartmentand are usheredinto the cab by the recentlyreleasedJoe is Jane. focuses on the hunt for a crazed killer of children(Peter Lorre. Jane must locate the stranger." one sighs.faultytranslations legal officials by interrupt a young couple's marriageplans.judges file into a courtroom while three mothers sit outside. escaped an mental patient. M ends with no endingand providesno closurefor the questionthat had been posed in the murder's firsttrial:Shoulda homicidalkillerbe executedby a courtof law or sent to a sanitarium.the strangeris run down by a truckbut lives long enoughto confessthe killingswrongly attributedto Briggsand Mike. from which he might escape or be released? 30. only to glimpseJoe at a flameenvelopedwindow.Whenthe mob dynamitesthe building.With legal authorities disinterestedin other leads.In a brief final sequence. When Joe realizesthat Catherinecan verify his story. The sheriffrebuffsall of Joe's attemptsto plead his case. conventionally lit and detainedby a sheriffon suspicion of being Denied any chance to tell his own story. offers another example of early law noir. before a jury of the killer'scriminal peers.the explosion blacks out the screen and.Thus. 28. who must seek a privatesolution to what are represented fundamental.ChasingJane into the street.30 part of a gang of kidnappers. In the film's brief. One of Lang'sbest-knownGerman films.352 Law and HistoryReview to Ultimately. seems headed for the type of mob justice featuredin Fury until legal authoritiesintervene.the bulk of its narrative deals if with a spectacular. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .ending. his fiance Catherine Grant(SylviaSyndey)rushesto the jail.again) and concludes with two trials. the initial Hollywoodeffortof the AustrianemigreFritz Althoughthe film is Lang. in pursuitof her marriage Mike. will be misidentifiedas a member of the kidnappingring. by herself. highly improbable. Forced into silence. A would-be groom. Joe Wilson (SpencerTracy).29 best known for its indictmentof lynching. M (1931). As in Strangeron the ThirdFloor. This content downloaded on Tue. The media confirms Joe's demise: Newspaperheadlinesscreamthat the FBI has caughtthe kidnap gang and that an innocent person has been lynched. "This will not bring our children back to life. presumably.he hesitatesto take this simple step becausebe fearsthat she. Joe discovers that the legal system cannot protecthim.public as problems with legal and courtroomdiscourses. as the visual image suddenlyfades away. kills Joe.

and halts the proceedings. 20. Peter Bogdanovich.. BecauseJoe and Catherinereunite in a public courtroom. Fritz Lang: Genre and Representation in his American Films (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Hollywoodon Trials 353 Film viewers. By focusing on Joe's decision to stop the trial. Early on in the production process.3' Deeply embittered. not vice versa. for example."indicatingthat lynchers can be tried for murder.Joe promisesthat he will give his tormentors "a legal trial. They'll have a legal judge and a Just legal defense.self-help. instead. Joe scoffs at the idea of hiring a lawyer to pursue members of the mob. it can be argued. 33. Fury can be read in ways that affirmcourts and law. a coming to terms with the largerforces of social order and the law. Before revealing Joe's scheme. in a legal court room. See Reynold Humphries. a big kick. "They get a big kick out of seeing a man burned to death.soon know betterwhen Fury revealsJoe has miraculouslyescapedfromthe burningjail." while the packed house cheered. "Why the 'Haves' Come Out Ahead: Speculations on the Limits of Legal Change."33 when Joe's machinationsare about to resultin guilty verdicts.however. to his brothers. Together while remaininglegally dead. watching newsreels of "myself gettin' burned alive. will manipulate the trial system and the languageof the law for personal revenge. Joe walks into the courtroom. What would the law do? Prosecute them for "disturbing the peace" or "setting fire to a jail?" This content downloaded on Tue.Tom and Charlie.however. Fury consciously rejects other legal options. he sat for hours in a movie theater. Fritz Lang in America.32 with his brothers.Holding up a page from "a law book. This shot. While sneaking back home. reverses the normal viewing position in which spectators gaze at people on the screen.Tom and Charlie. in the final version. studio heads at MGM turned back a script in which the lynching victim was a lawyer who could employ his special professional skills to redress his grievances. Such a shot. On self-help as a legal remedy. 1989). The film's dialogue also tries to implicate film spectators in Joe's ordeal." 32. which is used again in the film's final sequence. 36." he snarls.Joe plots secretlyto assist. They'll get a legal sentence and a legal death. Similarly.both his "killers"and the largersociety. alongside the lynch mob." Joe will not trustthe specializeddiscoursesof lawyersto translatehis ordeal into scholarBruceKawinarguesthat their reunion "is also a social gesture.Joe embraces a familiar legal remedy.. 31. a conscientiousdistrict attorneywho is prosecutingtwenty-twomembersof the mob for Joe's "murder. "They like it.embracesCatherine. see Marc Galanter. Joe'sreturnis cinematically framed so that he speaks directly to the film audience while he is denouncing."It "clarifiesthe healing of the culture . Joe tells his brothers. he and his brothers. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ." Law and Society Review 9 (1974): 125-35. tends to pull film spectators into the film so that they are positioned.

It is the difficulties of representation. Even the sheriff bows to community pressure and claims he cannot identify the people who stormed his jail. Boldly and ingeniously struggling to correct a grievous wrong. just as they had earlier thwarted the sheriff's attempt to hold Joe for trial.39. More important. rather than corruption or incompetence. Sucha readingis also consistentwiththe "meta-theory" classicalHollywood narratives. during the course of any trial.offeredin Ray. the rule of law must rest.A Certain Tendency. the courtroom process and legal discourses.354 Law and History Review implies a comprehensive system of values. When it appears. Andrew Bergman. Fury suggests.. Instead.. its legal characters are dedicated professionals who perform relatively competently and honestly. and shows the resetting of the moral order that was fractured at the lynching. in some detail. these defendants could not have committed murder. Breaking with the "mouthpiece" film genre of the early 1930s. whatever their other crimes. the district attorney reveals legal evidence apparently untainted by bias. the ways in which Fury represents. For a good example of this importantcycle of legal films.. 35. see The Mouthpiece (Warner. Fury also details the enterprising district attorney's efforts to impeach testimony from corrupt and uncooperative witnesses. of 1992). He summons the newsreel foot34."34 Though plausible. How Movies Work(Berkeley:University of CaliforniaPress. cinematically. a reconciliatory reading such as Kawin's seems at odds with the many ways in which Fury challenges the representational capacity of the specialized discourses upon which legal translations and. but he emphatically rejects the legal system as a source of desirable values. ultimately. prosecuting a murder trial at odds with what film spectators know to be the reality of the case.35rather. Bruce F Kawin. Fury suggests the indeterminacy of language and the problematics of legal translation. 18-29. before he and Catherine rebuild their life together. may not comprehend the context of their discourses. the district attorney unknowingly aids Joe's scheme. Joe does concede that. this reconciliatory reading must repress discordant elements within the filmic text itself. 1971).We'rein the Money:DepressionAmerica and Its Films (New York:Harperand Row. Fury avoids the familiar tale of witless judges and corrupt lawyers.1932). To highlight these critical dimensions and to suggest how students of law might approach filmic texts. that threaten to turn a legal performance into tragedy. Even the best-intentioned law enforcers.See also. This content downloaded on Tue. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . that the mob has stymied the trial process. the law will have plans for him. who blatantly perjure themselves to provide the defendants with phony alibis. I want to examine. however.

ReadingRodney ed. new form of evidence and converts the courtroom into a motion picture theater. On the importanceof the documentaryform in the 1930s."Jackson. Fury ironicallyoffersthe camera's"obfrom newsjective" eye as omnipotent and all-seeing. see William Stott." Buffalo Law Review28 (1979): 459. Fury thus highlightsthe extent to which trials may be seen less as a processthat seeks "the truth"and more as one that involves different. they also revealimages as several of the defendants cutting fire hoses) previously un(such available. In contrastto testimonyof whatpeople merely claimed to have seen. LauraKalman.Legal Realism at Yale(ChapelHill: University of North Carolina Press. 31-35.How can Has anyone reallyknow that Joe perishedin the fire?39 not the newsreel 36. See RobertGooding-Williams. In this sense. DocumentaryExpressionand ThirtiesAmerica (New York:Oxford University Press. it By dramatizingwhat happenedoutside the jail so powerfully. the use of newsreel footage in Fury presagesthe use of visual evidence in the Rodney King case..36 Just as one wing of the legal realistmovement invoked social-science datain hopes of stabilizing Furypositsnewsreelfootage legaldiscourse. 1993). and John Henry Schlegel."Catherine'sclaim of having seen her fiance at a flame-enshrouded window offers dramaticbut unreliabletestimony. After seeing a stop-actionshot of her husband'smurderousintent and realizinghis alibi has collapsed.even to the film audience watchingFury itself.38 Yet. 1986). Bolsteredby this evidence. 37.37 as thoroughlyempiricalevidence. 39. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Hollywoodon Trials 355 age of Joe's "death"as a potent. "language This content downloaded on Tue.As freeze-frames of the riot show the defendantsto be part of a murderous reel footage mob and the defense witnessesto be perjurers. helps to emphasize the importanceof the visual over the oral. 38.Thoughproblematicin termsof verisimilitude-this kind of photographicproof would have likely been inadmissiblein any courtroom in 1936--this narrativeturn is crucial to the film'scomplex legallogic. Furyvividly undercutsthe traditionalpracticeof tryingto represent As trials almost solely in terms of oral testimony and cross-examination. characterizing theater. In a broadersense. Seizing on the lack of visual evidence from Joe's cell. King/Reading Urban Uprising(New York:Routledge. See. parallows the defense to underminethe prosecution'sassumpadoxically tions about what must have occurred inside. even irreconcilable. the motion picture machineryonly appearssovereign.the prosecution'scase seems unassailable. "Law'sTruth" 45. legal scholar "courtroominteraction in terms of drama and J. further accentuatingthe power attributedto documentaryimagery. for example.. the defense can raise doubts about his "death. Jackson argues.a courtroomspectatorfaintsdead away. 1973). "AmericanLegal Realism and Empiricist Political Science: From the Yale Experience. D..

the defense attorneysattack the claim. "Lang:Fear and Desire. The insistence that representations. see Jean-Francois Phrasesin Dispute(Minneapolis:University of MinnesotaPress.see also the discussion of Lang's final Hollywood film in Douglas Pye.Beyond a ReasonableDoubt. Jean-Francis argues. Since the district attorney has produced neither Joe's body nor any "articlesknown and proved"to have been worn by him. though.The game. ratherthan a process of holding up a mirrorto social "reality. to have seen?In her this juncture. even underlegal oath. For Differend: a critique of Lyotard'sgeneral approach."4 The defense's argumentsshake Catherine'stestimony. seeing the flame before his face."75. she flashes back to the jail scene. diegesisitself underscores this: When Joe's brothersfirstquestionCatherineabout what she mightbe able to offer in the way of evidenceappears."[U]nder the law. The assumption that Joe could not have survived the fire-bombing in cannotgo unchallenged a courtroom. This content downloaded on Tue. Fritz Lang: The Image and the Look (London:BritishFilm Institute.. The cross-examinationof Catherineexemplifiesthe complex view of the trial process offered in Fury. based either on newsreelfootage or Catherine'stestimony."In this sense. 98-109. See Stephen Jenkins.see ChristopherNorris. their critique relies upon the genderedargumentthat an The hystericalwoman is a likelycandidatefor hallucinations. are part of a lengthychain of images. 1981).cannot Lyotard be answeredwithin a single rule of judgmentbut requiresa shift to a different language Lyotard. 117-18 in Jenkins.and promptyet anotherturn in the trial narrative. Postmodernism." argues a defense attorney.Before Judge Hopkins can rule on this motion. 1992).356 Law and History Review just exposed the fallibilityof what people claim. In one sense.she remainsmute until one of the brotherslights a cigarette.first-hand cutions in the Nazi gas chambers. UncriticalTheory: and the Gulf War(Amherst: Intellectuals.her personalrecollectionsmay only represent the "hallucination"of a "torturedmind. 40. momentarilyeven mistakingthe brotherfor Joe himself. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .renderthe newsreel footageproblematic.Such a position.hails traditionallegalover mass-mediaevidence. On some of the broaderissues involved here. the use of this approachby the defense soon createsa trap for its own clients."in The Book of Film Noir. the judge testifies to having receiveda special delivery ring packagewith a fire-charred and a note claimingthe band had been games. Universityof Massachusetts Press. might Catherineonly have imagined seeing Joe at a window? Without stop-actionpicturesto authenticate them for the community. the defense correctlyaligns itself with facts constructedby the film itself. In another sense. 70-85.Takingthe witness stand himself. Finally." may be seen a persistent theme in Fritz Lang's work. lives cannot be taken on assumptionsbut on facts.concludesthe defense. whetherin the legal system or in the mass media. 1988).if Fury. the defense moves for dismissal of all murdercharges.that no one could have survived the fire-bombingat the jail. By opposing this common-sensededuction.ed. "Film Noir and SuppressiveNarrative. the defense team's appealto eyewitnesstestimony might be said evidence of exeto parallelthat of Holocaust revisionistswho seek similar. See infra. however.

at the end of the film.Hollywoodon Trials 357 recoveredfrom the burned-out the jail.but fearing from the community." and mass media establishments remainobliviousto how the entiretrial has.Fritz Lang.41 OnlyJoe'sinterventionsavesthe defendants. If one sees the trial. the ring sequence underminesthe authority of a Judge Hopkins. Mark Kelman's argumentthat. pedestal on the bench. Catherine'stestimony prompts one of the defendantsto confess her role in the fire. defenseitself had demanded-"articles known and provedto have been worn" by Joe-and offersempiricalevidence of his "death. Perhapsmost significant. First.the senderwants to remainanonymous. to implicate the others. as a multiple set of languagegames. the appearanceof the ring satisfies the defense'sinsistencethattrialsmust turnupon facts. for example."in Law Unreeled.43 41. he is photographedaway from his lighted when."With anotherof the film's "fact-and-fiction" newspaperheadline membersof both the legal proclaiming"GallowsLoom for Lynchers." the district attorney smugly proclaims. Catherinehaltinglyidentifiesthe ring as Joe's. ratherthan a search for some ultimate truth.See Humphries." Kelman. 68-70. Fury consistently treats media representations more reverentiallythan legal no effect.not assumptions.'817. Joe's manufactured evidence providespreciselywhat the Paradoxically. Indebted to the PerryMason genre of legal fiction and to femalecenteredmelodramas. Emotion carriesthe day. On the symbolicimportance ofjudgesto the conclusionof trials. see NormanRosenberg. Jackson. "there is your answer to this case. 42. reprisals Catherine returns to the witness stand to authenticatethe ring as Joe' a word in the note. after Joe materializes in the courtroom."Ladiesand Gentleman of the jury. even thoughjudgments about the plausibilityof evidentiaryclaims are "doubtlessas much about aspirations as interpretations"most of us are ultimately "closet positivists. D. "Law's Truth" 47. perhapswith irony. the judge participatesin Joe's revenge drama. thesesequencesalso remainconsistentwith Fury's of legal logic and its criticalrepresentations the trial system. "ReasonableEvidence of Reasonableness.however. This content downloaded on Tue. one Joe constantly misuses. Reminded that she is still sworn to tell the truth. 43. By steppingdown to testify. One might note here.cues film viewersto the likelihoodthatJoe himselfhas supplied the ring and that Catherinenow suspectsthis to be the case."42 Equally important. Fury'srepresentational structuresdeny the judge any effectivevoice or role. Regretting lynching. it stripsaway his neutrality. and to beg Catherinefor forgiveness.see J.been staged.if only to the fact of the ring's arrival. Her reaction.he dominates the narrative's conclusion. fact visually highfor the first time. For a comparisonof the ways in which judicial authorityis representedin Furyand a laterlaw noir.Knockon Any Door(1949). "Law Noir. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .

"The desire for revenge.pushes aside the symbol of legal authority.Joe simply not His consuming his own very being." GeorgiaLaw Review 18 (1984): 911. "I came here today for my own sake. John Ford:The Man and His Films (Berkeley: University of California Tag Gallagher.358 Law and History Review Joe's decision to stop the trial from any concerns Fury also separates about either law or justice. 925-27. even when he entersthe courtroom to halt the trial.44 Skillfullyintegrating gunfighter Joe's this alternatebetweenJoe and Catherine."A few hours alone.Isolatedin a seedy room.which.1963).however. in other words. that of the defendants. Not 46. Althoughhe once or even some higher-law.Fury. finalsequencerepresents decision to save the defendantsas having nothing to do with legality code of justice.' YaleLaw Journal95 (1986): 1601.46 flames had consumed his old faith in legal process. dictateshis decision. 45. Joe concluding scene. viewing of the film. "Don't leave me alone!" Joe remainsaloof from the law. gun-fighter had concern for both law and justice. This content downloaded on Tue. Joe remains unmoved.and speaks the eschewsthe familiar film'sfinallines beforea silentjudge.otherthan marriage. He simply acquiescesto the brute force of legal discourse. "Violence and the Word. seem to play even ameliorativeroles. esp."Obligation: to the LawButto the Neighbor. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . at least in my see. Joe cries out. however. convinces Joe he cannot live without Catherine. 1986).carriesthe power to inflict pain and even death. with Catherine-and not Thus it is Joe and his personalrelationship with the law that dominatesthe film's the judge-and his relationships Now that his brothersand fiancee reject him. Wilson declines such a role. as Fury reminds. "They could stand seeing me burned to death. see MilnerS. 384-413. but he still disdainsany moral obligationto The reverelaw or even bow to its legitimacy. On this point. Even when Catherinefinds Joe's hideout and joins his brothersin pleading that the defendantshave suffered enough.trying to celebratehis triumph by himself. On Liberty Valence. cannot stand the thought of losing Catherineand enduring a harsh world in which neitherlaw nor social institutions. Press. Robert Cover. 47. Joe Wilson is potentiallypositioned as a person who stands above the process of law for a higherform of justice. the fire burned those kinds of "silly things" out of him.Joe has realized. Until the brief final shot. for example.47 44. but they can't stand an honest trial. the camera shots (except for a quick pan down the front row of defendants)alternatebetween Joe and Catherine. Ball. with camerashots that dialogue trope. Yet.45 will abandon his scheme. He strides to the bench with the gait of a western gunfighter. Much like Tom Doniphon (John Wayne)in The Man WhoShot LibertyValence (Paramount. when Joe and Catherineembraceat the foot of the silent judge's bench.

1943). As J.1936). Bogdanovich.Censorship. for AmericanQuarterly (1992): 509." under which they too work. insisted that Fury make no referenceto vigilantejustice in the South. In addition. for example. Several recent.albeit furtively.are alwaysrooted in institutionalstructures of power.32. Fury briefly shows a young black man. directorFritz Lang claims to have shot a brief scene in which an elderly black Joe's lynch mob is leaving a bar.50 nods approvingly. Couvares. to Nonetheless. and The Ox-BowIncident(TwentiethCenturyFox. YoungMr. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .the final cinematictext does might be noted. and is surging toward the jail. As a visual commentaryupon the districtattorney'sdenunciationof lynch law. who oversaw enforcement of the industry'sProduction Code. 50.Hollywoodon Trials 359 Finally." and and Lea Jacobs. 1928-1942 (Madison:University of Wisconsin Press. Especiallyin the law 48.where it has been gathering courage. Later.Fritz Lang in America. revisionist studies have looked at Hollywood's system of legal cenand Amersorship. Telotte and others suggest. while speaking"in a mannerthat often reflexivelypoint "to the limitations asks us to accepttheirown form of discourse.officialsat MGM. listening to the trial on a car radio. 49. the film's most prominentrepresentational volve lynch law and race."Telotte Voicesin the Dark.See.Earlyin the noirs.48 problemsinHere. a brief and highly intrusive sequence. See. the most conservativeof the Hollywoodfactories. which does nothing to advance woman singinga bluessong. ican Culture. for instance.the symposiumentitled "Hollywood. 1991). 1939). hint at the racialdimensionsof lynching. Joe's on-screenbattle with legal language to parallelsthe largerfilmic text's own struggle surmountthe limitations of Hollywood'sown privatelegal system dominatedby the Production Code. for example. Hollywood movies of the 1930s and 1940s deal with lynching in nearly every context except violence againstAfin rican-Americans the South. This content downloaded on Tue. Lincoln (Twentieth CenturyFox.Both media and legal discourses. P. mistaking their intent.49 Joseph Breen. The Wagesof Sin: Censorship the Fallen WomanFilm. fleeing in terror.deletedimagesof the relationshipbetween race and law from the final release copy. Studio heads excised the scene. Neve.Fury reminds. 44 edited by Francis G. featuresan African-American the narrative. Law Noir and Postwar Legal Culture:They Won'tBelieve Me and Boomerang of Fury'scriticalrepresentations law and its unconventionalcinematic styles reappearin scores of postwar film noirs. Film and Politics in America. 28. Black Legion (Warner.

52 Thus. TheAmericanJury(Boston: Little Brown and Company. 1983). esp. Warren in Susman.HarryKalven.30.and MichaelBelberg. for example.1966). Film and Politics.are fundamentallydangerous and filledwith evil possibilities."It is specifically noir movie that showsthe audience the repressed that its desires.51 historiansand film scholars have suggested. knap."HarvardLaw Review 73 (1959): 1. 65-67." a relatedvein. 1993). On litigationseekingto end racialdiscrimination. than other Hollywood forms.. to conflicts over the speech rights of bringing closure. The Great "RedMenace"(Westport. law noirs can offerlegal historiansimportantculturaltexts by which to chart a variety of hopes and fears about law and courts.Jr. see PeterSteinConn:Greenwood.on trials involving leftist politicalspeech.these postwarnoirs become increasinglycomplex (and As bizarre)in both their storiesand plots. claimingthatthey express fears. invariablyshot on lower budgetsthan other films. which they can now fulfill in the modem world of abundance. Historian WarrenSusman.HerbertWeschler. LearnedHand.a formerlawyerwho wroteand in directedForceof Evil (1948). 1958).the nation's courts became sites at which deep divisions over issues such as racial discriminationand communism. 52. tutional Law.In the Name of National Security:Hitchcock. such as the law. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .53 a court the appropriate Was forum for for instance.Film Art. views them againstthe backdropof profoundanxietiesaboutpostwarlife. 3-11.TheNAACP's see Legal StrategyAgainst SegregatedEducation. 54. Polonsky. 1925-1950 (Chapel Hill: University of North CarolinaPress. See. Accordingone approachto film.Homophobia. 150." RecastingAmerica. writer-director In Abraham Polonsky arguesthat noirs. the "story"comprises the series of events as of they supposedlyoccurredwithin a motion picture'srepresentation time and space. which by story elements are enunciated. On battles located in Hollywood. passim. see Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund.and the Political Construction Genderin Postwar of America(Durham:Duke University Press. for example. 1987).360 Law and History Review noir sub-cycle. MarkTushnet. 53. as elsewhere.1984). Cold WarPolitical Justice (1977). to name only two. See. Corber. Could politicaldissidentsand the nationalsecurityneedsof the country? legal tribunals translate passions over the crusade against racial discrimination into authoritative. This content downloaded on Tue.neutral principles?54 During the 1940s 51.Foran intriguing the law of the national securitystate. see Robert J. is quoted in Neve.and Hans Zeisel. social welfare. and the "plot" involves the narrativestrategy. The Inquisition in Hollywood(Berkeley:University of California look at how one set of postwarfilmsrepresented Press. The Bill of Rights (Cambridge: HarvardUni"TowardNeutral Principlesof Constiversity Press. came together.and security.See Bordwelland Thompson. In Hollywood. such as the use of flashbacks. for example."Did SuccessSpoil the United States?Dual Representations PostwarAmerica.the postwarera broughtincreasingvisibility to legal tribunals. allowed greater freedom to explore noirsoccupyan importantplacein postwarculture. The postwarperiod also saw continued debate over the institution of the jury trial itself.

the film shows in to defendant"trapped" a loveless marriage wealthy the philandering Greta Ballantine.56 Despite Greta'ssurveillance. followingthe legal logic of the marriagecontract. despite some criticalstancestowardlegaldiscourse.See. Law noirs.Hollywoodon Trials 361 and 1950s. seekinga quick divorce for Larryand thus breakinghis formal and informalmarriage contractswith Greta. See.wagedwithin specificfilmic texts. suggestthe increasinglycomplex struggles.Larryhides her body and resumeshis playboylifestyle. since Gretahas been declaredlegally dead as a result of the car crash in Nevada. again.until his boss (long jealous of Larry's with Verna)and one of Larry's own formerlovers relationship convince the police that Ballantineprobablykilled the missing Verna. 55. Ann Kaplan.VernaCarlson(SusanHayward). They Won'tBelieve Me (1947) and Boomerang(1947). Ballantine'sfate becomes tangledin an intricateweb of legally generated assumptions about what "must" have happened to Greta and to Verna. This content downloaded on Tue. With Greta now legally to dead.indeed accentuate. 56. this film is filled. including The Killers(United Artists. LarryBallantine(RobertYoung) takes the witness stand.ed. with contractualmetaphors. "Film Noir and Women. presumablyto testify his way out of a noir-like legal nightmare.familiar codings of gender.playing "a game that I never had a chance of winning.issues first raised in pre-WorldWarII films such as Fury and Strangeron the ThirdFloor Filledwith legalmetaphorsand framedin a courtroomsetting.1981).Narratedalmost entirelyfrom the witness stand.In a Lonely Street.Chargedwith killing his lover.E. 110-12. 1946) and Out of the Past (RKO.and ElizabethCowie. generally. Upon his return."he later admits. 121-66.As Ballantineand Vernadrive towardReno. esp. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .he discoversthat the police. 29. these and many other disputes over the role of courts and legal trials raged alongside paralleldebates.who "uses"her money to lure him away from extramaritalaffairs.' in Shades of Noir. though. 1947). Like other postwarnoirs. a car crash kills Vernaand leaves Larryunconscious.. for example. Womenin Film Noir (BritishFilm Institute. The police soon find a body and. the discussion in Krutnik.Ballantinerisks an affair with Verna. for example.55 They Won'tBelieve Me involves a trial for murder. Larrygoes back to California convertthe law'smistakentheory about Greta's fate into reality. inscribedwithin the cinematic codes of law noirs. 245-46 n.exemplify. over the questions of closure and translation. Ballantine discoversa distraught Gretahas alreadycommittedsuicide. Ballantine'swife. When Larryawakes. mistakenly (but. for example.passim. wrongly assume Verna'scharred body to be that of Greta. with first-personvoice-oversand severallengthy flashbacks.

6'Shot on locale in Connecticutand "basedon They Won't a true story"that (the film's off-screennarrator[Reed Hadley]emphasizes) "could have happened anywhere." The lengthy trial. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ."I listenedto my own story. his own himself proves more importantthan any of the public discoursein the court and jury rooms. 61.58 account.. a numberof the male protagonists the noirs seek to do battle with the law.57 Even though Ballantinegets the opportunityto tell his storyin court. especiallyfor Boomerang'srelationshipto the noir cycle.LarryBallantine.Courtson Trial. then. 58.Don Juan Quilican(1945) offersa variationon this same story."Frank. unsuccessfully the end. the judge still orders his clerk to read the verdict-which turns out to be "innocent"-in order "to complete the record. seems of little legalor moralconsequence. some of them. Larry Ballantineis chargedwith killing a person who was.TalkingPower:The Politicsof Language(New York: Basic Books.alreadydead. concludedby the readingof a moot decision over the body of a dead man. See Robin TolmachLakoff. After hearing his improbable he fears gambling on a jury verdict. I still rely upon Telotte. LarryBallantine'stestimony seems less a way of talkinghimself out of legal trouble than a means of talking himself through psychological trauma. In this sense. 1990). a wager. The postwarcomedy."the movie begins with the 57. his former lover regretsher role in bringinghim to trial and tries to be reassuring:The jury will "believe you.60 issues. 59. much like Joe Wilson in Fury. Although Ballantine is lying dead on the courtroom floor. LarryBallantine'sattitude parallelsthat of the legal realist Jerome Frank who wrote that "a legal rightis usuallyas bet.provokeshis own courtordealby defyingor challenging in the law. In contrastto the youngreporter Strangeron the ThirdFloor.362 Law and History Review within the logic of Larryand Greta'smarriage contract)assumeGreta's remains to be those of the missing Verna. Voicesin the Dark. which employs a Lacanian-influenced psychoanalyticapproach.and a deputyfatallyshoots him. Although my own readingdiffers in several respects. 139-45.I brought in my own verdict. In this film. 27. 59 if.BoomRecallingFury'smeticulousexaminationof evidentiary of offerseven more complex representations the trialprocessthan erang BelieveMe. "talking cure" for personal.In a Lonely Street. psychological guilt."While grim-faced jurors file into the court room. For an argumentalong these lines. where defendantswere indicted for killing someone who was still alive.. the public courtroomprimarilyserves as a space in in which LarryBallantinecan seek. in realitybut not legally." Ballantine's responseis classicnoir. 143-46. Ballantinetriesto climb out a window.see Krutnik.In contrastto Fury.59 Larry's testimony to This content downloaded on Tue.on the chancyoutcome of a possible future lawsuit. in 60.

and the pre-trialpreparationsof State Attorney Henry Harvey (Dana Andrews)only exacerbatesthese divisions.the judge scolds Harvey for ignoring his public duty to prosecutethe case and warns that he had "betterdo a greatdeal more than think"when he presents the rest of his exculpatoryevidence. In adsurrounding dition. and the representations the corruption. Using flashbackscenes that depict his stafftestingcruciallinks in the evidentiarychain.Beginningwith "as close to a perfectcase as I have ever seen.State AttorneyHarveybecomes a heroic legal figure. however. pulls the trigger. especially the flashbacks. can the case conclude.Hollywoodon Trials 363 searchfor the person who murdereda beloved Roman Catholicpriest.rivalriesand cynicism a small-towntrial furthersuggestthe former film. John Waldronclosely resemblesthe burned-outWorldWar II veteranswho populate a number of postwar noirs. an embittered WorldWar II veteran. return to power. In addition. and they manipulatethe case for their own political advantage. Waldronis quickly released. This content downloaded on Tue. The community'spoliticalleaders.the film's climactictrialsequencesfail to bringthe kind of narrative closurefound in more celebratoryfilms such as The Young Philadelphiansor Twelve Angry Waldronwalks out of the courthouse.the official chargedwith binding Waldronover for a jury trial. he pronounces the evidence "inconclusive.The hunt for the killerrevealsdeep fissureswithin the community.Harvey suddenly announces that he "thinks"Waldronis innocent and asks for a nolle prosequi. Moreover."he presentsthe evidenceto a superiorcourtjudge. Standingagainst political pressures.the Reform and the ConservativePartyseems poised for a Partyfalls into disarray. film spectatorssee Harvey refuting other elements of his own case. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Because of their efforts to pressureHarvey. Still.through all the evidence.suggest noir: the story of an innocent person trappedin a tangled web of evidence recalls both Fury and Strangeron the Third of Floor.for example. In chambers. the capture of John Waldron(ArthurKennedy). includingthe ballistictests."Only when an assistant points Waldron'sgun at Harvey'sown head. Harvey'spublic performancevindicateshis personalconvictions.havelittle interest in whether or not Waldronactually committed the crime.Although he holds an apparentlyunbeatabletrump card-knowledge of the "fact"that Waldron's gun cannot dischargewhen held at the angle from which Father Lambert's killer had presumablyfired-Harvey plods. Boomerang aligns viewers with Harvey's claim that all of the eyewitness testimony is inconclusive. Finally. step-by-step. Many of its filmic techniques. Boomeranginscribesa numberof elements from both film noir and its law noir sub-cycle.and has it misfire. FatherLambert. Without warning.

the essays in The Politics of Law:A Progressive Critique. AmericanOdyssey: Elia Kazan and AmericanCulture TempleUniversityPress. a film that combined noir styles with an paean of to the FBI."In contrast.with the logic of the Hollywoodstudio system. ed. Boomerangwas directedby Elia Kazan. Over the backgroundstrainsof "Americathe Beautiful"the omniscientnar62. At crucial points in the trial sequences.Increasingly. Pauly. Boomerang.on the frontpage. while fleeing police who were chasing him for speeding."62 In severalimportantways. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .In Boomerang. 64.who risked his careerto save an innocentman. On the Waterfront (Columbia.ed. 493.who appeared on Un-AmericanActivities in 1952 to admit his own Communist Party past and to name names. In this sense. see Telotte. on the back page. ed. for example. of course. TwelveAngry Men may conclude so smoothly Will a jury find a specificdefendantguilty or because its narrativefocus is narrower: innocent?Indeed.opts for acquittal. David Kairys (rev.For a discussion of this turn."Thirty Yearsof Treason: Excerpts from Hearingsbeforethe House Committeeon Un-American Activities. about the man identified only as Jim being killed in a car crash. also ends without a conviction. the camera gives the film spectators a unknownto all the diegetic privilegedsightof a man identifiedonly as "Jim. 143-45.the problem differentnarrativetrajectory significantly is a very broadone: Is a small-town justice systemadequateto the task of apprehending and convicting the killer of a beloved religiousleaderwhose death has left a "gaping hole in the community. beforeHouse Committee 63. Boomerangdiffersfrom other law noirs.. from the cold-warperiod.63 film.carriesa small item. It is the media. on the necessity to cooperatewith legal tribunals.Henry Fonda." character Jim characters except the deceased FatherLambert. shows Harvey rising above ordinarypolitics. EricBentley(New York: Viking.4Boomerang's concluding sequence underscoresthis position by noting that State Attorney Harvey never became governor.1938-1968. ratherthan the law.A later (Philadelphia film directed by Kazan. An On Kazan'spoliticaland cinematicturns.see ThomasJ.the political reward dangledby the Reform Partyin exchangefor a quick conviction. This content downloaded on Tue. 1990).364 Law and History Review the omniscient narratorreveals that the "case was never solved" and still remains "open on the police books. New York:Pantheon.1971). seems to be the real killer. 1983). See. The Hollywoodfilm system compensatesfor this failureto find FatherLambert's killer.Kazanclaimed.who had overseen the Marchof House on 92nd Time seriesand turnedto featurefilms with anothersemi-documentary. 1954) is perhapsthe strongest filmic statement. and producedby Louis de Rochemont. TwelveAngryMen (1957). but it offersa than Boomerang.the answeris virtually guaranteedonce the film's star. Voicesin the Dark. that announcesthe end of the chase: The same newspaperthat featuresWaldron's release. This shows the exact oppositeof the Communistlibels on America. Street(TwentiethCenturyFox. it inscribesone of the majordiscoursesin postwarlegalculturethe insistencethat law and politicsare entirelyseparaterealms. The especiallyin its celebrationof Henry Harvey'slegal performance. 1945). for instance. tells "how an initial miscarriage justice was righted by the persistenceand integrityof a young district attorney.

In addition to the films discussed in the text. Bosley Crowtherwrote that Graham"is compelledto endurea grim succession of legal maneuveringthat puts the Chinese watertortureto shame. and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (RKO. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . see Kaja Silverman. for examples of noirs that offer highly critical views of the courtroom process.1947). 1945).65 over. 52-121.fairlyand the accurately.about the "crisis" of male potency in postwarfilms. films such as Twelve AngryMen and The Young Philadelphians a powerful.66 BoomIf erangneverquite imputesstable. seem to represent Still. 1992). through the magic of courtroom process.authoritative meaningsto the evidence offeredin court-the omniscientvoice-overadmitsthat "some people" always considered Waldronguilty-State Attorney Harvey can still translate Waldron'sclaims of innocence effectivelyenough to satisfy legal standardsof proof. The Ladyfrom Shanghai (Columbia. Other films in This content downloaded on Tue. Reviewing the film for the New York Times. The appearance films such as Twelve of AngryMen. Though it falls short of constructinga story in which a court trial providesan entirelysecureclosureand magically reconciles seemingly irreconcilableinterests.Boomthe land. 1946).ScarlettStreet(Universal." erang articulatesits legal narrativein ways that contain importanttensions in postwarculture. In this important sense. displays a number of markersof noir.TheStrangeLoveofMarthaIvers(Paramount. 1952). Boomerangpoints toward films such TwelveAngryMen and The YoungPhiladelphians. as in Polan's classical pattern. For example.Male Subjectivity the Margins at (Routledge. 66. 1958.Hollywoodon Trials 365 rator revealsthat the characterof Henry Harveywas modeled on that of Homer Cummings. For a broad argument.drawingupon psychoanalytical theory.who "rose to one of the highest legal offices in Most important. stories from daily life. November 19. feature important trial sequences that fail to resolve. see Leave Her to Heaven (Twentieth CenturyFox. includingthe populargender-role comedyAdam'sRib ( does assume a more important narrativerole than courtroomsequencesin other law noirs. it might be argued that other postwarlaw films.67 65.ThePostmanAlwaysRings Twice (MGM. 1956). In addition.1949). 67. for enunciatingtranslationsthat seem to represent. 1945).did not mean that all traces of law noir vanished. 1949). narrativecomplications. attorneygeneralof the United States. I Want To Live (1958). a complex and compelling low-budgetquickie that was Fritz Lang's final Hollywood effort. the "true-life" account of a woman (Susan Hayward)executed for a murdershe very likely did not commit."New YorkTimes.the film nonetheless enMoredows State AttorneyHenry Harveywith considerablepotency.Angel Face (RKO. popularlegal texts that unabashedlycelebratecourt trialsfor providing closure to controversialstories and. of course. 1947). The File on Thelma Jordan (Paramount. even though the hearing may not have closed the book on the story of Father Lambert'smurder. 1946).Nora Prentiss(Warner.TheLocket(RKO. 1946).perhapsdominant trend during the 1950s and early 1960s. 45.

DemographicVistas: Televisionin American Culture(Philadelphia: of PennsylvaniaPress. in In addition.On Dragnet.PeytonPlace(TwentiethCentury Fox. 301-33. Jr."YaleJournalof Law and Humanities(1990): 189. Now."especially if they approach legal texts as constitutive. 1954).ratherthan simply reflective. the Second Time Around. Silbey."Text.and Webb's"MARKVII" logo signifiesa satisfactoryconclusion to another "real-life"legal narrative. Susan S. provided the special place in which the famed lawyer-detective See Anita Sokolsky."Makinga Place for CulturalAnalysesof Law. 68. Conversation".In what ways and do the discoursesof legal professionals translate. esp. On the importance of the confessionalform in mass. 1993). Michael Grossberg.the defendants'images the reappear.Inheritthe Wind(United Artists.. legal films."The Case of the JuridicalJunkie:PerryMason and the Dilemma of Confession. 1960). then. This content downloaded on Tue. Hoffer.1959). 1957). 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Once Joe Friday(JackWebb) narrator his promisesthat the Dragnetwill soon return apprehends suspect."LegalHistory and Social Science:Friedman's History of AmericanLaw.perhapsthe most dramaticrepresentations courtroomclosurein legaltexts of the 1950s are offeredin the television classic Dragnet. Explorationsin Law and Society:Toward Constitutive Theoryof Law (Routledge. see David University Marc. interpret "evidence of experience.of law and legal culture?68 Beginningwith legal films of the 1950sand flashingbackto law noirs of the late 1930s and 1940s.and SergeantRutledge(Warner. accounts that are themselves discursiveand contingent ratherthan naturaland foundational?Can courtroomdiscoursesrenderthese accountsinto formsthat satisfyboth the rule of law and ideals of justice? As with other texts.Context. by adapting post-structuralist apboth to expand proachesto legalstudies. of Finally. commercialculture. How do historiansfind and. See. anticipated(and also inspired)several generationsof legal historiansby urging attention to the experience rather than the logic of law.366 Law and History Review Conclusion Oliver Wendell Holmes."Law and Social Inquiry 17 (1992): 39. off-screen with the results of a court trial."Law and Social Inquiry 13 (1988): 359. a and Alan Hunt. which courtroomconflicts resolve narrativeconflicts include On the Waterfront (Columbia. 1984). the popularPerryMason series featurednarratives which courtrooms finallysolves his cases. Tele-Advising: Discoursein AmericanTelevision (ChapelHill:Universityof NorthCarolina Therapeutic Press. court'ssentenceis announced. 1992).Translation.historianshavethe opportunity ideas about what counts as experienceand to cross-examine experience every bit as criticallyas Holmes did logic. for example.see Mimi White. this article suggeststhat motion pictures from Hollywood'sclassicalera provideevidence of importantstruggles over the criticalquestions of representation closure. Followinga commercialbreak.and in what ways can they conclude stories from "real" life.

Scott. 69.contestation. as Joan Scott argues (in anothercontext). This content downloaded on Tue. "The Evidence of Experience.and reconstruction the legal discoursesof the mid-twentiethcentury. offer evidence that. Joan W.Hollywoodon Trials 367 especially the law noirs."69 Hollywood films may help to illuminate the conof struction." CriticalInquiry 17 (1991): 797. "is alreadyan interpretation somethingthat needs and to be interpreted. 18 Dec 2012 22:12:49 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .