Execution before trial?

A relatively new film -- Sidney Lumet's "Find Me Guilty" ("based on the true story of Jack DiNorscio, a mobster who defended himself in court for what would be the longest mafia trial in U.S. history") -- opened at theaters nationwide on March 17. Not only does it look interesting, it's gotten good reviews. The local Courier Post's Chuck Darrow gave it a rave review:

It's a shame Find Me Guilty came out so soon after this year's Academy Awards. History suggests that by the time the 2007 nominations are announced, Diesel's sparkling performance most likely will be forgotten.

The movie is also an inspiration for those who believe old age and the diminishing of creative and intellectual powers are a matched set.

Philadelphia native Lumet, whose jaw-dropping resume includes Twelve Angry Men, The Pawn Broker, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Verdict and the criminally underrated Prince Of the City, is 81.

But his direction is crisp and compelling, as is the script for which he receives top billing in the credits (he apparently wrote most of the non-courtroom scenes).

Even at his advanced age, Lumet appears still to be pretty close to his professional peak.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the movie speaks to friendship and loyalty, aspects of the human condition that don't always get top billing.

According to the film, DiNorscio was eager and willing to take the rap so 19 guys he'd known and loved as brothers all his life could remain free.

His only motivation was his unshakable belief in the sacredness of such relationships.

In an increasingly isolating world, that is a wonderful lesson to impart.

Bottom line: Don't miss Find Me Guilty.

I love Sidney Lumet, and The Pawnbroker may be my all-time favorite film. (Certainly it's in my top five.)

So the bottom line is, I didn't want to miss Lumet's latest (especially considering the excellent reviews).

Except I did miss it! Less than two weeks after its release, Find Me Guilty is gone. I've never seen a film vanish that quickly. The official website still shows it playing at numerous theaters in this area, but if you check further, you'll find it is nowhere in Pennsylvania. Nor New Jersey.

Hmmmm.... A big film by a major director about the Mob? Not lasting two weeks in the director's home town? In the stomping grounds of the Sopranos?

What could be the explanation?

And why is it still playing in New York and Ohio?

I'm wondering. Is it a coincidence that a lawsuit was filed in New Jersey last week?

NEWARK, NJ, United States (UPI) -- Journalist Robert Rudolph filed suit in Newark, N.J., federal court Thursday claiming the film \'Find Me Guilty\' was illegally based on a book he wrote.

Rudolph`s suit claims director Sidney Lumet`s film was a \'blatant and wholesale theft\' of his 1992 book, \'The Boys From New Jersey: How the Mob Beat the Feds.\'

Rudolph, who spent more than 35 years at the Newark Star Ledger, wrote the book after covering the 1980`s racketeering trial of more than 20 alleged members of the Lucchese crime family. The trial, which lasted more than 20 months, resulted in the acquittals of all the defendants.

Look, I don't like plagiarism any more than the next guy. But the case hasn't even gone to trial yet. Isn't the film innocent until proven guilty?

Besides, plagiarism is one thing; my right to see a movie is another!

And what about my constitutional right as a blogger to see the film so I can write a review of it?

Obviously, I can't prove that the film was pulled because of the lawsuit, but something stinks.

posted by Eric on 04.03.06 at 01:21 PM


Very strange, indeed. Hadn't even heard of "Find Me Guilty." As to Sydney Lumet, my favorite is "The Morning After" with Jane Fonda giving the performance of her life.
"What would make you happy?"
Fonda answers: "A cab, a cab would make me happy"
What camp.
And poor Raul Julia -- his last performance.

Frank   ·  April 4, 2006 11:54 PM

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