William & Mary

Law Library Movies: Death Penalty

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Law movies
Act of Killing, The (2012)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ****
Format:  DVD (2 disc set) 115 min. 
Plot: Filmmakers examine a country where death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes.
Cast: Haji Anif, Syamsul Arifin, Sakhyan Asmara. Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer.
Categories:  Documentary  History  Death Penalty

Law movies
At the Death House Door (2008)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ****
Format:  DVD  98 min. 
Plot: An investigation of the wrongful death of Carlos DeLuna.
Cast: Participants portray themselves. Directed by Peter Gilbert and Steve James.
Categories:  Documentary  Evidence  Death Penalty

Law movies
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ***1/2
Format:  DVD  80 min. 
Plot: Just how fallible is the process of law? To what extent can fate intervene to set a murderer free, or send an innocent man to the electric chair?
Cast: Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine, Sidney Blackmer, Arthur Franz, Philip Bourneuf, Shepperd Strudwick. Directed by Fritz Lang.
Categories:  Drama  Criminal Law  Death Penalty

Law movies
Capote (2005)
Rated:  R  Stars: ****
Format:  DVD  114 min. 
Plot: Truman Capote travels to Kansas to research what will become his most celebrated book.
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins, Jr.. Directed by Bennett Miller.
Categories:  Biography  Entertainment  Death Penalty

Law movies
Dead Man Walking (1996)
Rated:  R  Stars: ****
Format:  DVD  122 min. 
Plot: A convicted killer is sentenced to death and when th date is set for his execution, he asks a nun to be his spiritual advisor.
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Robert Prosky. Directed by Tim Robbins.
Categories:  Sentencing  Death Penalty  Evidence

Law movies
Deadline (2004)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ***
Format:  DVD  90 min. 
Plot: A compelling look inside America's prisons, highlighting one man's unlikely and historic actions against the system.
Cast: Participants portray themselves. Directed by Katy Chevigny and Kerstin Johnson.
Categories:  Documentary  Death Penalty  Criminal Procedure

Law movies
Executioner's Song, The (1982)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ***1/2
Format:  DVD  135 min. 
Plot: Based on a true story, an unstable ex-con committed two cruel and senseless murders that resulted in his execution by firing squad.
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Rosanna Arquette, Christine Lahti, Eli Wallach. Directed by Lawrence Schiller.
Categories:  Biography  Sentencing  Death Penalty

Law movies
His Girl Friday (1940)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ****
Format:  DVD  92 min. B&W
Plot: A newspaper editor attempts to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.
Cast: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart. Directed by Howard Hawks.
Categories:  Comedy  Media  Death Penalty

Law movies
Illegal/The Big Steal (1955)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ***1/2
Format:  DVD  160 min. B&W
Plot: An overly aggressive district attorney sends an innocent man to the chair,and is forced to resign and defend criminals/An army lieutenant accused of robbery pursues the real thief through Mexico.
Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch Hugh Marlowe, Jayne Mansfield, Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, William Bendix. Directed by Lewis Allen and Don Siegel.
Categories:  Law Enforcement  Death Penalty  Criminal Law

Law movies
Into the Abyss (2011)
Rated:  PG-13  Stars: ****
Format:  DVD  107 min. 
Plot: Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people - and the state - kill.
Cast: Jason Burkett, Werner Herzog, Michael Perry. Directed by Werner Herzog.
Categories:  Documentary  Criminal Law  Death Penalty

Law movies
Johnny Guitar (110)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ***1/2
Format:  DVD  110 min. 
Plot: On the outskirts of a small town sits an empty casino, waiting for the customers the constructing of the new railroad will bring. When a man is murdered the local officials come to run the casino owner out of town.
Cast: Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, Ernest Borgnine. Directed by Nicholas Ray.
Categories:  Western  Criminal Law  Death Penalty

Law movies
Just Cause (1995)
Rated:  R  Stars: ***
Format:  DVD  102 min. 
Plot: A prisoner facing the electric chair for the murder of a young girl calls in a law professor to help prove his innocence.
Cast: Sean Connery, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Capshaw, Blair Underwood, Ruby Dee, Ed Harris. Directed by Arne Glimcher.
Categories:  Criminal Law  Death Penalty  Mystery/Suspense

Law movies
Last Dance (1996)
Rated:  R  Stars: ***
Format:  DVD  103 min. 
Plot: A young lawyer is assigned to the clemency case of a woman convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death.
Cast: Sharon Stone, Rob Morrow, Randy Quaid, Peter Gallagher, Jack Thompson. Directed by Bruce Beresford.
Categories:  Women  Death Penalty  Advocacy

Law movies
Lesson Before Dying (1999)
Rated:  PG-13  Stars: *****
Format:  DVD  101 min. 
Plot: In the 1940's South, an African-American is wrongly accused of the killing a a white store owner.
Cast: Don Cheadle, Cicely Tyson, Mekhi Phifer, Irma P. Hall. Directed by Joseph Sargent.
Categories:  Racism  Advocacy  Death Penalty

Law movies
Let Him Have It (1991)
Rated:  R  Stars: *****
Format:  DVD  115 min. 
Plot: A true-life drama about a simple-minded British teenager who befriends a group of gangsters, becomes implicated in the murder of a policeman, and ends up on death row.
Cast: Christopher Eccleston, Paul Reynolds, Tom Bell, Eileen Atkins, Clare Holman, Michael Elphick, Mark McGann, Tom Courtney. Directed by Peter Medak.
Categories:  Foreign  Criminal Law  Death Penalty

Law movies
Life of David Gale, The (2003)
Rated:  R  Stars: ****
Format:  DVD  130 min. 
Plot: A respected professor and anti-death penalty activist is charged with a brutal murder.
Cast: Kate Winslet, Cleo King, Constance Jones, Kevin Spacey, Laura Linney. Directed by Alan Parker.
Categories:  Death Penalty  Evidence  Drama

Law movies
Monster's Ball (2001)
Rated:  R  Stars: *****
Format:  DVD  111 min. 
Plot: A racist prison guard falls in love with the African-American wife of an executed prisoner.
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Taylor Simpson, Peter Boyle. Directed by Marc Forster.
Categories:  Death Penalty  Racism  Drama

Law movies
Murder in the Park, A (2014)
Rated:  PG-13  Stars: ***1/2
Format:  DVD  91 min. 
Plot: Filmmakers assert that a former death-row inmate who was spared the death penalty was actually guilty, and an innocent man was sent to prison.
Cast: Dexter Hammett, Joseph Alex, Jason Patrick. Directed by Christopher Rech & Brandon Kimber.
Categories:  Documentary  History  Death Penalty

Law movies
Murder! (1930)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ***
Format:  DVD  100 min. B&W
Plot: A producer-director is selected to serve on the jury for a murder trial. Believing the accused, an aspiring actress, is innocent of the crime, he takes it upon himself to apprehend the real killer.
Cast: Herbert Marshall, Norah Baring, Donald Calthrop, Edward Chapman. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Categories:  Jury  Mystery/Suspense  Death Penalty

Law movies
Paradine Case, The (1947)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ***
Format:  DVD  114 min. B&W
Plot: A barrister defends a beautiful woman accused of murdering her husband in order to marry a lover.
Cast: Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ethel Barrymore. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Categories:  Drama  Death Penalty  Criminal Law

Law movies
Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman (2005)
Rated:  R  Stars: ****
Format:  DVD  98 min. 
Plot: The life and times of Albert Pierrepoint - Britain's most prolific hangman.
Cast: Timothy Spall, Juliet Stevenson, Eddie Marsan, Christopher Fulford. Directed by Adrian Shergold.
Categories:  Death Penalty  Biography  Sentencing

Law movies
Presumed Innocent (1990)
Rated:  R  Stars: ****1/2
Format:  DVD  127 min. 
Plot: An up-and-coming lawyer in the county prosecutor's office becomes a suspect in the murder of a fellow prosecutor.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Brian Dennehy, Bonnie Bedelia, Greta Scacchi, Raul Julia, Paul Winfield, John Spencer. Directed by Sidney Lumet.
Categories:  Mystery/Suspense  Death Penalty  Drama

Law movies
Red Corner (1997)
Rated:  R  Stars: ***
Format:  DVD  122 min. 
Plot: An American attorney in Beijing finds himself accused and arrested for the brutal murder of a beautiful woman, and discovers the Chinese court systems presume guilt.
Cast: Richard Gere, Bai Ling, Bradley Whitford. Directed by John Avnet.
Categories:  Death Penalty  Drama  International

Law movies
Return to Paradise (1998)
Rated:  R  Stars: ***1/2
Format:  DVD  111 min. 
Plot: Two years after three friends vacation in Malaysia, the two who returned to America learn that the one who stayed behind to do research was arrested for drug trafficking. They must return to serve a three year prison sentences or he will be put to death.
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Joaquin Phoenix, David Conrad, Vera Farmiga, Nick Sandow, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ming Lee. Directed by Joseph Ruben.
Categories:  Drama  Death Penalty  Mystery/Suspense

Law movies
Reversible Errors (2004)
Rated:  NR  Stars: ***
Format:  DVD  172 min. 
Plot: A corporate lawyer's interest in a decade-old murder case is piqued by a new confession that could clear the convicted killer, who sits on death row.
Cast: William Macy, Tom Selleck, Monica Potter, Felicity Huffman, James Rebhorn, Shemar Moore, Glenn Plummer, Ron Canada. Directed by Mike Robe.
Categories:  Death Penalty  Drama

Law movies
Sacco & Vanzetti (1971)
Rated:  PG  Stars: ****
Format:  DVD  120 min. 
Plot: In 1920 two Italian immigrants are condemned to death for their political beliefs after being falsely accused of a robbery and murder.
Cast: Gian Maria Volonte, Riccardo Cucciolla, Cyril Cusack, Rosanna Fratello, Geoffrey Keen, Milo O'Shea. Directed by Giulliano Montaldo.
Categories:  Drama  History  Death Penalty

Law movies
Star Chamber (1983)
Rated:  R  Stars: ****
Format:  DVD  102 min. 
Plot: Disgusted with criminals escaping the judicial system via technicalities, an idealistic young judge joins a secret organization of judges that hires a hitman to kill other criminals who have similarly gotten off the hook.
Cast: Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yapher Kotto, Sharon Gless. Directed by Peter Hyams.
Categories:  Action  Drama  Death Penalty

The Wolf Law Library welcomes your suggestions for additions to the Feature Film Collection! If there is a law-related movie you feel we might be missing, please submit your suggestion to the Circulation & Reserve Desk at lawcir@wm.edu.

You can view a list of all law library movies in the online catalog.