Women Lawyers and Film

Women Lawyers in Film: Carole Shapiro, in "Women Lawyers in Celluloid: Why Hollywood Skirts the Truth," 25 U. Tol. L. Rev. 955, 963, n. 34 (1995) lists the following films in which women lawyers have a speaking part: "The Seduction of Joe Tynan" (1979); "And Justice For All" (1979); "First Monday in October" (1981); "Second Thoughts" (1982); "The Cradle Will Fall" (1983); "Jagged Edge" (1985); "Legal Eagles" (1986); "Suspect" (1987); "The Big Easy" (1987); "Physical Evidence" (1986); "The Accused" (1988); "Music Box" (1989); "Presumed Innocent" (1990); "Wild Orchid" (1990); "Class Action" (1991); "Defenseless" (1991); "Love Crimes" (1991); "Other People's Money" (1991); "A Few Good Men" (1992); "Guilty as Sin" (1993); "Philadelphia" (1993).

Shapiro mentions, in addition to "Adam's Rib" (1949), two other late 1940s films featuring women lawyers: "Tell It to the Judge" (1949) and "The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer" (1947). Two other films from the 1930s are not well known, Shapiro points out, because they are not available on video: "Career Woman" (1936) and "The Lady Objects" (1938). Shapiro, in her review of these films, concludes that "Adam's Rib," "offers one of the most appealing cinematic portraits of a woman lawyer."

We might add to the list: “The Client” (1994) and “Guilty as Sin” (1993).


Stacy Caplow, Still in the Dark: Disappointing Images of Women Lawyers in the Movies, 20 Women's Rights Law Reporter 55 (No. 2/3 Spring/Summer 1999)

Carrie S. Coffman, Gingerbread Women: Stereotypical Female Attorneys in the Novels of John Grisham, 8 So. Cal. Rev. L. & Women's Stud. 73 (1998)

Christine Alice Corcos, "We Don't Want Advantages": The Woman Lawyer Hero and Her Quest for Power in Popular Culture, 53 Syr. L. Rev. 1225 (2003)

Terry Kay Diggs, No way to treat a lawyer; when screen lawyers are women, Hollywood changes the rules, 12 Cal. Lawyer 48 (1992)

Patrice Fleck, The Silencing of Women in the Hollywood "Feminist" Film: The Accused, 9 Post Script 49 (Summer 1990)

Diane M. Glass, Portia in Primetime: Women Lawyers, Television, and L. A. Law, 2 Yale J. L. & Feminism 371 (1990)

Louise Everett Graham & Geraldine Maschio, A False Public Sentiment: Narrative and Visual Images of Women Lawyers in Film, 84 Ky L. J. 1027 (1996)

Orit Kamir, Feminist Law and Film: Imagining Judges and Justice, 75 Chi.-Kent. L. Rev. 899 (2000)

Cynthia Lucia, Framing Female Lawyers: Women on Trial in Film (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005)

Carolyn Lisa Miller, "What a Waste. Beautiful, Sexy Gal. Hell of a Lawyer": Film and the Female Attorney, 4 Col. J. Gender & Law 203 (1994)

David Papke, Cautionary Tales: The Woman Lawyer in Contemporary Hollywood Cinema, 25 U. Ark.--Little Rock L. Rev. 485 (2003)

Carole Shapiro, Women Lawyers in Celluloid: Rewrapped, 23 Vt. L. Rev. 303 (1998)

____________, Women Lawyers in Celluloid: Why Hollywood Skirts the Truth, 25 U. Tol. L. Rev. 955 (1994)

Ric S. Sheffield, On Film: A Social History of Women Lawyers in Popular Culture 1930 to 1990, 14 Loy. L.A. Ent. L. Rev. 73 (1993)

Mark Tushnet, "Class Actions: One View of Gender and Law in Popular Culture," in John Denvir (ed.), Legal Reelism: Movies as Legal Texts 244-260 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996)

Elaine Weiss, Who's Missing in This Picture? Why Movies and Television Have Ignored Women Lawyers, 16 Barrister 4 (September 22, 1989)

Bibliograpy: Women and Film

Diane Carson, Linda Dittmar & Janice R. Welsch (eds.), Multiple Voices in Feminist Film Criticism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994)

Barbara Creed, Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (New York: Routledge, 1993)

Mary Ann Doane, Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory and Psychoanalysis (New York: Routledge, 1991)

_____________, The Desire to Desire: The Woman¹s Film of the 1940's (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987)

Mary Ann Doane, Patricia Mellencamp & Linda Williams (eds.), Re-vision: Essays in Feminist Film Criticism (Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America & The American Film Institute, 1984)

Patricia Erens (ed.), Issues in Feminist Film Criticism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990)

Lucy Fischer, Shot/Countershot: Film Tradition and women's Cinema (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1989)

Molly Haskell, Holding My Own In No Man's Land: Women and Men, Film and Feminists (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997)

E. Ann Kaplan, Women in Film Noir (London: British Film Institute, rev. ed., 1998)

Annette Kuhn, Women's Pictures: Feminism and Cinema (New York: Verso, 1993)

Judith Mayne, The Woman at the Keyhole: Feminism and Women¹s Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990)

Marsha McCreadie, Women on Film: The Critical Eye (New York: Praeger, 1983)

Patricia Mellencamp, A Fine Romance: Five Ages of Film Feminism (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995)

Tania Modleski, The Women Who Knew Too Much: Hitchcock and Feminist Theory (New York: Methuen, 1988)

Constance Penley, The Future of an Illusion: Film, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis (Minneapolis: Univeristy of Minnesota Press, 1989)

Laura Pietropaolo & Ada Testaferri (eds.), Feminism in the Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995)

Jan Rosenberg, Women's Reflections: The Feminist Film Movement (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1983)

Anneke Smelik, And the Mirror Cracked: Feminist Cinema and Film Theory (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998)

Jackie Stacey, Star-Gazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship (New York: Routledge, 1994)

Sue Thornham, Passionate Detachments: An Introduction to Feminist Film Theory (New York: Arnold, 1997)

Sue Thornham (ed.), Feminist Film Theory: A Reader (New York: New York University Press, 1999)