Physical Evidence.  Absence of Malice.  Reasonable Doubt.  Presumed Innocent.  Q and A.  The Verdict.  Witness for the Prosecution.  Anti-Trust.  Under Suspicion.  Class Action.  Intolerable Cruelty.  Irreconcilable Differences. A Civil Action.

Movies (mostly courtroom dramas, but often suspense thrillers,* and even the occasional romantic comedy) that use scraps of legal jargon for their titles have been around a long time.  The question is: how long?  Is it 1949’s Witness for the Prosecution, or is there something that predates it? 

More to the point, why doesn’t the IMDb have a “genre search” function?

And, what are some other scraps of legal jargon that haven’t been used yet?  Malice Aforethought, Murderous Intent, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, In Chambers, Suspended Sentence, Motion to Dismiss, Approach the Bench, I guess this could go on all day.

*Many of the suspense thriller titles on this list, one can see, also fall into the “Adjective Noun” genre of sure-fire moneymaking titles.  Other examples being Fatal Attraction, Lethal Weapon, Final Analysis, Basic Instinct, Narrow Margin, Stray Dog, Hidden Fortress, Minority Report, Dark Water.  I tell ya, nothing says “thriller” like Adjective Noun.  It makes it a breath of fresh air when they come up with the occasional surprise like the imperative statement Die Hard, or the puzzling whatsit Face/Off.
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21 Responses to “Contest!”
  1. r_sikoryak says:

    Here’s an amusing scrap of jargon that I often see in contracts:

    “…in any other manner or media at any time throughout the world in perpetuity…”

    That sounds more like an English romantic comedy than a suspense thriller.

    • Todd says:

      Indeed. And one day, I promise, I will write a movie titled A Terribly Twee British Comedy With a Ridiculously Long Title.

    • robolizard says:

      Wait, I’ve always wondered this, does Nickelodeon magazine aspire to be art? [hiring real cartoonists to draw actual comics for example…]

      • r_sikoryak says:

        I don’t know if I’d say Nickelodeon magazine aspires to art, that sounds a little pretentious to me.

        The Nick editors certainly try to make funny and entertaining comics for kids, by hiring real cartoonists that they like.

        One interesting thing to note: except for those comics starring Nickelodeon TV characters (like SpongeBob), the cartoonists that write and draw strips for Nick mag own their own copyrights. So I think the creators can invest more of themselves — it’s not work for hire.

        Todd, how about a movie called “Work for Hire”? I don’t think I’d want to see it.

  2. robolizard says:

    ‘Assault with a Deadly Weapon’… now thats a movie worth 7$ to see..

  3. Has “Hung Jury”

    been used yet?

  4. craigjclark says:

    How could you forget 1944’s Double Indemnity? It’s by the same director as Witness for the Prosecution (which was from 1957, by the way)!

  5. A zombie film titled ‘Habeus Corpus’?

    • Todd says:

      Zombie lawyers. Good call, never been done.

      • ‘Laides and gentlemen, does the constitution not promise each and every one of its citizens life, liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness? Well, my client here may only desire 2/3 of those rights, but he is no way less of a man than any one of you here today.’

        Lawyer Frankenstein. Now that would be a film…

        • Todd says:

          Wasn’t it already a Saturday Night Live sketch?

          • Was it?…. yeah I guess it was. Or was that lawyer caveman? The sloped brow and lack of evolved intelligence would still be the center of the humor, but no doubt my cheap cliched parody of the James Whale film would win over the heart of the audience.

            …has SNL rang death’s bell for movies with blatantly stupid one ‘joke’ premises?
            Was Kangaroo Jack the last of its kind?! Or is the ’40 year old Virgin’ a call to arms!?

  6. gazblow says:

    Possession With Intent? Harboring a Fugitive? Aid and Abet? Manslaughter? Reckless Endangerment? Sedition?

    Just spitballin’ but how about:

    Final Priority
    “It was the first thing they thought of. It was the last thing they did.”

    I’ve been waiting three years for the proper audience for that joke.

  7. dougo says:

    Attractive Nuisance
    Tortious Interference
    Promissory Estoppel
    Ejusdem Generis

    Actually these all sound like porn titles.