Primal Fear

( 5 )

Overview

A high-profile slaying becomes the case of an ambitious attorney's career in this legal thriller based on the novel by William Diehl. Richard Gere stars as Martin Vail, a famed defense lawyer who volunteers his services to Aaron Stampler Edward Norton, a Kentucky teenager charged with the murder of a Chicago archbishop. Covered with blood, Aaron was captured after a foot chase broadcast live on TV, making a gleeful Vail certain that he could raise his profile by defending the obviously guilty suspect. Assigned to...
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Overview

A high-profile slaying becomes the case of an ambitious attorney's career in this legal thriller based on the novel by William Diehl. Richard Gere stars as Martin Vail, a famed defense lawyer who volunteers his services to Aaron Stampler Edward Norton, a Kentucky teenager charged with the murder of a Chicago archbishop. Covered with blood, Aaron was captured after a foot chase broadcast live on TV, making a gleeful Vail certain that he could raise his profile by defending the obviously guilty suspect. Assigned to prosecute is Assistant District Attorney Janet Venable Laura Linney, who is Vail's ex-girlfriend. Vail's case becomes more complicated than he expected when a psychologist, Dr. Molly Arrington Frances McDormand concludes that Stampler suffers from multiple personality disorder. Vail also uncovers evidence that the archbishop was involved in a corrupt land scheme and may have molested young parishioners. Now the cynical, opportunistic attorney is faced with a daunting prospect, a client who may actually deserve his best defense. Its shocking, twist ending made Primal Fear 1996 a big box office hit and earned Norton, in his screen debut, an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Primal Fear is best remembered for the debut performance of Edward Norton, one of the most critically lauded new actors of the 1990s. Norton received overwhelming plaudits for his role as a Southern altar boy accused of murder, and he was duly nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Though Norton was praised by the critics, star Richard Gere caused a wider disparity of opinion for his performance. Still, former television director Gregory Hoblit creates considerable suspense, coaxing convincing thrills out of the script's twist ending. Fear was a moderate success in Gere's spotty 1990s film career.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/6/1997
  • UPC: 097363283232
  • Original Release: 1996
  • Rating:

  • Source: Paramount
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Gere Martin Vail
Laura Linney Janet Venable
John Mahoney John Shaughnessy
Edward Norton Aaron Stampler
Frances McDormand Dr. Molly Arrington
Alfre Woodard Judge Miriam Shoat
Terry O'Quinn Bud Yancy
Andre Braugher Tommy Goodman
Steven Bauer Joey Pinero
Joe Spano Strenner
Tony Plana Martinez
Stanley Anderson Archbishop Rushman
Maura Tierney Naomi Chance
Jon Seda Alex
Reg Rogers Jack Connerman
Kenneth Tigar Weil
Brian Reddy Woodside
Wendy Cutler Lou
Robert Jordan WGN Anchor
Mike Bacarella Sergeant
Peter Schreiner Bailiff
Joseph R. Ryan Old Man
Tony Fitzpatrick Duty Officer
Clarence Williams III
Christopher Carroll M.C
Technical Credits
Gregory Hoblit Director
Deborah Aquila Casting
Bill Arnold Art Director
Ann Biderman Screenwriter
Louisa Bonnie Set Decoration/Design
J. Stephan Buck Asst. Director
Steve Cantamessa Associate Producer
Cindy Carr Set Decoration/Design
Michael Chapman Cinematographer
Betsy Cox Costumes/Costume Designer
Hallie D'Amore Makeup
Patricia Graf Associate Producer
James Newton Howard Score Composer
Erin Kemp Set Decoration/Design
Howard W. Koch Executive Producer
Gary Lucchesi Producer
Robert McMinn Co-producer
Jeannine Oppewall Production Designer
Mark Poll Set Decoration/Design
Bill Roe Camera Operator
David Rosenbloom Editor
Arnold Rudnick Associate Producer
Steve Shagan Screenwriter
Jane Shannon Casting
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    "It was like we were dancing, Marty!"

    It's the same old song with a new step in its dance, my friend. "Primal Fear" has a fine story for those who like the classic courtroom dramas - the left turn and sudden drop at the end makes it slightly more compelling than most movies of its kind; but it's not the plot that makes it an impressive film.

    Despite the line-up of exceptional stars like Richard Gere or Laura Linney, it's the fresh-faced Edward Norton that really makes this movie enjoyable. As Aaron/Roy, it was so real to watch him struggle with his personalities as they switched and eventually blurred. You felt sorry for him, you believed in him and you even applaud his performance regardless of the story's conclusion; he stole your attention for every scene he was in and you remembered him when it was over. He shined.

    Both Gere and Linney did a job well done, but unfortunately, possibly because of the story line, it was difficult for them to develop as memorable characters. Gere is a talented yet selfish lawyer and Linney is an intelligent rival with a cold attitude. They have a past with each other and in the present they can only butt heads. Their chemistry was obvious but their relationship was cliche.

    There is equal handful of pros and cons for this movie, and all in all it is entertaining, but if you would really like a good reason to watch it, watch it for Edward Norton. This is certainly one of his best performances and my only disappointment for this movie was that he wasn't recognized by the Academy for his role in it...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    "Primal Fear" Immediately Grabs Your Attention

    "Primal Fear" has a wonderful plot full of twists and turns. The entire cast is excellent, but I think Edward Norton is amazing! At the time I watched this film, I did not know that this was Norton's debut on camera. His portrayal of the teen from Kentucky, accused of murder, was full of excellent nuances that made his character very believeable. Other cast members include Richard Gere as the defense attorney, Laura Linney as the prosecuting attorney, and Frances McDormand as a psychologist who analyses Norton's character for many hours. These cast members are also excellent. The film's ending is....definitely memorable!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Chilling

    It grabs your attention, then leads you on a journey of emotional twists and turns. Finally! you realize the unthinkable is true. A must see. Recommend you do it with friends good discussion piece.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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