Saturday, June 19, 2010

Judges become vigilantes in 'The Star Chamber'

The Star Chamber (1983)
Starring: Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Joe Regalbuto, Don Calfa, James B. Sikking, and Yaphet Kotto
Director: Peter Hyams
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

When a Superior Court Judge (Douglas) grows frustrated with the U.S. legal system when he fiinds himself releasing obviously guilty criminals on technicalities, he is invited by his mentor (Holbrook) to join a secret society of judges who have taken it upon themselves to issue death penalties for the vilest of criminals who escape justice in their courts.

"The Star Chamber" is a thriller that will intrigue anyone who's ever shaken their head at the way the American courts seem to be slanted in favor of allowing criminals to, literally in some cases, get away with murder and those who believe firmly that the perfect justice system is the one that lets one hundred guilty men go free to avoid sending that one innocent man to prison. It offers food for thought no matter where you are on the political or philosophical spectrum.

Although it's more than 25 years since its release, the story in "The Star Chamber" is still relevant and vibrant and the film has a very contemporary feel to it. In fact, a lack of references to any what-was-then contemporary real-world situations means this film stands nearly undated. It's an undeservedly obscure thriller--has it ever been on TV?--that features good performances by all cast memebers, a decent script, and good cinematography. It's only serious flaw is that it's somewnat predictable.


  1. Been meaning to watch this one forever. Great write up thanks for the reminder.

  2. My pleasure. I hope you like it when you get around to seeing it.