The Firm

This starts out as a piece of yuppie consumerist pornography calculated to get audiences drooling. Then it suddenly and purposefully turns into an enjoyable, nimble thriller that manages to sustain interest for its full running time of a little over two and a half hours. It’s the first Sydney Pollack movie I’ve ever liked. A lot of what makes it work is a well-constructed script by David Rabe, Robert Towne, and David Rayfiel, rather freely adapted from the best-selling John Grisham novel, and an excellent cast that Pollack (as producer-director) gets the most out of–including, among others, Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Gary Busey, Hal Holbrook, David Strathairn, Wilford Brimley, and Paul Sorvino. Cruise plays a lawyer fresh out of Harvard who’s hired by a wealthy Memphis firm that he discovers is working for organized crime; Dave Grusin provides the vamping jazz piano. Ford City, Evanston, Hyde Park, Norridge, Webster Place, Burnham Plaza, Golf Mill, Lincoln Village, Water Tower.

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