We all love to snuggle up in bed with a chick-flick every once in a while, but there's something very engaging about watching thrilling, gripping legal movies. From the machinations of lawyers and criminals, the goings on in court rooms, fights to prove innocence or getting up close and personal with crime and its perpetrators and victims, the genre is fascinating from many angles. Here are 8 gripping legal movies I think you'll really enjoy.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird
Unsurprisingly perhaps, the 1962 movie adaption of Harper Lee's novel has to make the top spot on my list of gripping legal movies. Beautifully mastered by the brilliant Robert Mulligan (director of movies such as Summer of '42 and The Man in the Moon), the movie (and book) portrays a story of prejudice and knowledge, innocence and courage. The message of the tale of Atticus Finch's rigorous defence of Tom is timeless. If you only ever watch one legal movie make it this one.
2. The Green Mile
The Green Mile is the magical story of a miracle, retelling the tale of a how a corrections officer (played by Tom Hanks) finds hope in amongst the Great Depression, in the form of John Coffey. This is another tale of a man accused of crime which sees him on death row. Can a man who has a very special gift really have murdered and raped?
3. Inherit the Wind
If you have never heard of this gripping legal movie, then you're definitely missing out. It's based on the true story of the trial of science teacher B.T Cates, who was arrested for teaching the Theories of Evolution in 1925. Go for the Golden Globe winning 1999 version. The magnificent banter of the opposing lawyers played by Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott is clever, witty and superbly delivered.
4. The Pelican Brief
Julia Roberts can claim two gripping legal movies. If you like the idea of fighting corporate irresponsibility then you'll plump for Erin Brockovich but if it's conspiracy at the top of the US government and action thrills you want, then it's The Pelican Brief. Both feature conservation issues too, so either way anyone with a care for our environment would happily enjoy these.
5. A Few Good Men
In the courthouse of the United States government, the movie tells the story of a young Navy law graduate fighting against forces bigger than he could have imagined to bring justice to a military murder case. Tom Cruise who reportedly earned $12,500,000 for his part in the movie gives what I consider to be one of his best performances ever in the movie. Can you handle the truth?
6. Kramer Vs. Kramer
When a divorce tears a family apart, the legal battle between two parents is fought out in dramatic fashion. Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman both won Oscars for their starring roles in this gripping legal movie. Anyone who can watch the ending without reaching for the tissue box has a heart of stone.
7. Primal Fear
Featuring a lawyer that his colleagues love to hate, Primal Fear is an epic legal thriller based on the novel by William Diehl. If you want to see a movie with some terrific twists and turns at the end (and Richard Gere to boot), this story is fascinating insight into personality disorders. It's a well made film all the way around
8. My Cousin Vinny
There's no rule that states a gripping legal film can't be funny. The storyline here plays excellently on the Italian American culture, which is contrasted effectively with the rural Alabama setting. Worth watching for Marisa Tomei's breakout performance oh and Joe Pesci's suit!
So that is it: my list of some of the best and most gripping legal movies to have ever graced the screen. I hope you'll agree there's something for every taste -- but let me know if I've missed something. What's your favourite legal film?