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Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Lawyer (1970) – Imprint Collection #231 (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


A hot shot New York lawyer goes to small town America to defend a wealthy doctor accused of murdering his wife.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The first film in Imprint Films’ Directed by…Sydney J. Furie collection is 1970’s The Lawyer. Barry Newman stars as big shot New York lawyer Tony Petrocelli (Newman would go on to reprise his role for the spin-off TV series, ‘Petrocelli’) who moves to a small cattle town in the Midwest to defend local wealthy doctor Jack Harrison (Robert Colbert) against charges he murdered his wife. Jack contends he fell asleep on his couch after a night out with his wife and another couple only to awaken and see a strange figure who attacked him and murdered his wife. Harold Gould plays the Wiley local prosecutor who brings the charges to trial and squares off against Petrocelli. The jury finds Jack guilty, but the appeals process uncovers more information tied to his adulterous wife and her lover that could clear him.

In this film Furie scales back much of his stylistic wont and directs a bit more straightforward crime/mystery smalltown courtroom drama. He does still manage to utilize some of his favorite visual techniques, such as some deep staging and the phantom ride camera shot that we get when Petrocelli is driving.

The witty writing and solid acting all around really elevate the quality of the film. Newman puts on one of his best performances as the sometimes arrogant, break all the rules attorney, but it is Harold Gould who steals most of the scenes with his quaint smalltown lawyer appeal. Kathleen Crowley as the wife of Jack Harrison also puts in a limited but nuanced performance, particularly during her trial testimony scenes.

Even as The Lawyer is a slightly more by the book film than some of Furie’s best, like The Ipcress File (1965), it is a riveting courtroom drama infused with dark humor that is an enjoyable and entertaining film from start to finish.

The Video

This Imprint Films release of The Lawyer is taken from a new 4K scan and restoration from Paramount. It is one of the standout discs in this five-film collection. It may have had the grain throttled just a tinge too much, but there is still a visible layer of grain which maintains an organic look. The detail is all there, with good depth of field in the many wide lens, deep staging scenes that Furie seems to favor.

The Audio

The Lawyer’s original English mono soundtrack is presented on Blu-ray in LPCM 2.0. The dialogue is clear and there is little to no egregious noise like pops and hiss, but it does show its limitations in some louder passages.

The Supplements

Imprint Films includes a wealth of new bonus features on the disc, including a new interview with Barry Newman. Additionally the collection this disc is a part of comes with a collectable booklet of essays and is housed in a Limited Edition glossy hardbox.

Part of Directed By… Sidney J. Furie (1970 – 1978) – Imprint Collection #231 – #235, which includes:

  • Collectable booklet exploring Furie’s legacy
  • Limited Edition 5-Disc Hardbox (1500 copies only)

The Lawyer Bonus Features:

  • Worldwide first on Blu-ray
  • Audio Commentary by film historian/filmmaker Daniel Kremer and film director Paul Lynch, with archival excerpts from director Sidney J. Furie (NEW)
  • Newman’s Law (1080p; 00:21:34)– An Anthony J. Petrocelli Deposition with star Barry Newman (NEW) 
  • Lawyers’ Wives and Lost Loves (1080p; 00:10:57)– two interviews with actress Diana Muldaur (NEW) 
  • Clear Lines of Sight: Sidney J. Furie at Paramount (1080p; 00:39:38) – video essay by Daniel Kremer (NEW)
  • Angles of Elevation (1080p; 00:14:15) – film director Joe Dante’s Appreciation of Sidney J. Furie (NEW)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 00:00:41)

The Final Assessment

Imprint provides the worldwide Blu-ray debut of this Sydney J. Furie film which deserves a lot more attention and rediscovery, as does all of Furie’s catalogue. The new restoration looks great.

The Lawyer is available on Blu-ray in the Directed By… Sidney J. Furie (1970 – 1978) – Imprint Collection #231 – #235 from Imprint Films.

  • Rating Certificate: Australia: M
  • Studios & Distributors: Furie Productions | Paramount Pictures | Imprint Films
  • Director: Sydney J. Furie
  • Written By: Sidney J. Furie | Harold Buchman
  • Run Time: 120 Mins.
  • Street Date: 26 July 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English HOH

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A hot shot New York lawyer goes to small town America to defend a wealthy doctor accused of murdering his wife.The Lawyer (1970) – Imprint Collection #231 (Blu-ray Review)