Studying law is a long and intense process, with no guarantee that you will land yourself a cushy job at a top firm upon graduation. Mitch McDeere (played by a baby-faced Tom Cruise) is a down-to-Earth Harvard Law student who balances married life with his career studies, whilst working menial jobs to pay the bills — that is until he is offered a tough to come by job at Bendini, Lambert & Locke, an exceptionally successful law firm, in Memphis Texas. A high salary with bonus, a swish new company car (you pick the colour), country club membership, and a low interest mortgage are all part of the perfect deal that seems too good to be true. The only catch? The firm’s lawyers seem to die with an alarming frequency, the owners take a keen and invasive interest in the employees personal lives, the firm is possibly tied up in mob dealings, and the FBI is pressuring you to turn states. Tough break. The Firm is adapted from the John Grisham novel of the same name (the first of Grisham’s books to get the big screen treatment, released the same year as The Pelican Brief in 1993). Mixing the thriller genre and world of law proved a big success, with the Sydney Pollack directed film taking in $240 million at the box office and netting two Academy Award nominations for Best Music and Best Supporting Actress for Holly Hunter. It also started a trend of Hollywood adapting Grisham’s massively popular novels (with more than one starring Gene Hackman).
But did you know…
1) The role of Avery Tolar, Mitch’s mentor, was originally going to be changed to a woman to allow the casting of Meryl Streep in the role. John Grisham did not like the idea and it was scrapped, with Gene Hackman being brought on relatively late. By that point the marketing had been built around Cruise, with him getting top billing alone. Hackman’s name subsequently did not appear in marketing materials, as he and his agents did not see him as an “above the title” actor, nor “below the title”.
2) For the soundtrack, Dave Grusin almost exclusively used a piano and added texture to the sound by beating the wooden side of the instrument as well as strumming on the piano wires inside. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his work.