Watch: The Star Chamber 1983 123movies, Full Movie Online – Disgusted with criminals escaping the judicial system via technicalities, an idealistic young judge investigates an alternative method for punishing the guilty..
Plot: As violence escalates in Los Angeles and heinous murders are committed, Steven Hardin, a young judge of the California Supreme Court, must struggle with his tortured conscience and growing despair as he watches helplessly as the ruthless criminals brought before his court go free because clever lawyers find obscure loopholes in the law.
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|6.3/10 Votes: 7,222|
|71% | RottenTomatoes|
|60/100 | MetaCritic|
|N/A Votes: 128 Popularity: 9.796 | TMDB|
“I can’t help feeling…that we’ve become them.”
Amusingly described by one review I read here as “a vigilante movie as it might be envisioned by John Grisham”, “The Star Chamber” is a good, solid, entertaining thriller. It misses its chances for greatness due to predictability and a lack of credibility, but while it’s playing out, some people, such as this viewer, may not mind too much.
Michael Douglas, in one of his earliest star vehicles, plays Steven Hardin, a young judge who’s frustrated by the legal system with which he has to work. Far too often criminal scum are able to escape just punishment due to legal technicalities and savvy defense attorneys. Stevens’ cagey, witty mentor Benjamin Caulfield (a marvelous Hal Holbrook) eventually reveals to Steven the method he and some fellow judges have employed to deal with the situation: review old, particularly infuriating cases, make judgments, and pass sentence, utilizing the services of a hired gun.
This is certainly slick stuff, well made technically with efficient direction by Peter Hyams and it’s at least smart enough to provoke some debate. For example, what would *you* do: let the 10 guilty men go free or let the one innocent man get executed? It includes some fairly exciting foot chases as well as one brief and decent car chase in a parking garage. The climactic sequence in the abandoned building is appropriately atmospheric. And Michael Smalls’ music score is haunting and effective.
Douglas is good in the lead but it’s the men in the major supporting parts that truly shine: besides Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto scores as a dedicated detective and James B. Sikking is touching as the father of a murdered child. Sharon Gless has little to do as Stevens’ concerned wife. The cast contains an impressive Who’s Who roster of character actors, including Joe Regalbuto (‘Murphy Brown’) and Don Calfa (“The Return of the Living Dead”) as a pair of goofy creeps, as well as Jack Kehoe, Larry Hankin, Dick Anthony Williams, David Proval, Robin Gammell, Matthew Faison, Michael Ensign, Jason Bernard, and Robert Costanzo. David Faustino (‘Married with Children’) plays one of Douglas’s kids and Douglas’s own real-life mother Diana plays Caulfields’ wife; Charles Hallahan (“The Thing”, ‘Hunter’) appears uncredited as police officer Picker.
The movie does move along quite well, getting off to a good start but not concluding as strongly. Still, it’s good entertainment for most of the time, and may have people talking about its themes after it’s over.
Seven out of 10.
The first half is great and the ending pretty much ruins the film
Michael Douglas is disgusted by the legal system. He is a young judge who is tired of seeing the scum of the earth walking on technicalities while the public good is being ignored. He begins talking to his colleagues about this and is eventually asked by one of them to come to meet some other like-minded individuals. It turns out that there are many judges equally dissatisfied with the current legal system and have decided to band together to re-try cases and dispense “justice” when it was denied the first time in court. This “star chamber” is a way of righting the wrongs in the legal system, as if they all agree, a hired assassin is sent my them to liquidate the wrong-doer! The idea, by the way, is very similar to the Dirty Harry movie, MAGNUM FORCE.
The problem is that although it’s a pretty good idea for a film and the acting is pretty good, the film falls completely on its face towards the end. And that’s because one minute Douglas’ character likes the idea of a “higher court” for these cases, later he inexplicably recants and tries to destroy the court! This made little sense and with a better ending this could have been a great film.
Perhaps the film had such a stupid conclusion because the people in Hollywood felt really uncomfortable with producing a movie that would have advocated vigilantism and violated the generally ultra-liberal climate in the motion picture industry. Regardless, with a little more ingenuity, this could have been so much better. Just off the top of my head I can think of two or three ways to have improved the ending–and I don’t get paid to do this. What’s their excuse?!
Original Language en
Runtime 1 hr 49 min (109 min)
Genre Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director Peter Hyams
Writer Roderick Taylor, Peter Hyams
Actors Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto
Country United States
Production Company N/A
Sound Mix 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints), Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)
Aspect Ratio 2.20 : 1 (70 mm prints), 2.39 : 1
Camera Panavision Panaflex Gold, Panavision C- and E-Series Lenses
Laboratory DeLuxe, Hollywood (CA), USA
Film Length N/A
Negative Format 35 mm
Cinematographic Process Panavision (anamorphic)
Printed Film Format 35 mm