Lawyers, Law, & the Movies: The Hitchcock Cases

30 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2007

See all articles by Allen Rostron

Allen Rostron

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law


Reel Justice: The Courtroom Goes to the Movies, by Paul Bergman and Michael Asimov, and Legal Reelism: Movies as Legal Texts, edited by John Denvir, represent valuable initial steps in the consideration of how movies and other elements of popular culture reflect the cultural positions of lawyers and law, and how their study can aid discussion of issues of legal theory. Reel Justice analyzes movies about lawyers and law, particularly those with significant trial scenes. It determines whether movies accurately portray legal reality. Legal Reelism discusses how movies can be considered legal texts that reflect themes and problems of legal theory.

The approaches of each of these books are considered in analyzing three films about criminal trials directed by Alfred Hitchcock: The Paradine Case, I Confess, and The Wrong Man. The treatment of Hitchcock's movies by film critics and scholars over the years reveals the fundamental similarity of the questions raised by interpretation of movies and the interpretation of more conventional legal materials such as statutes. The history of Hitchcock's movies also shows that interpretive issues cannot be overlooked if movies are truly to be treated as legal texts, as suggested by Legal Reelism.

Movies and television have served as the primary source of information about law and lawyers for millions of people over the years, and they will continue to do so. Popular entertainment has also continually influenced lawyers' understandings and attitudes toward law and the legal profession.

Posted with permission.

Keywords: Culture, Society, Legal theory, Legal texts, Movies, Myths, Interpretation, Intent, Authority, Justice, Critical Legal Studies, Law and economics, Hitchcock

JEL Classification: K40, K41, L82

Suggested Citation

Rostron, Allen K., Lawyers, Law, & the Movies: The Hitchcock Cases. California Law Review, Vol. 86, p. 211, 1998, Available at SSRN:

Allen K. Rostron (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

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