Primal Fear

Primal Fear

Newcomer Edward Norton became an instant movie star in 1996 with three amazing performances in Primal Fear, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Everyone Says I Love You. Make that four amazing performances, because in Primal Fear he plays a young man named Aaron Stampler whose personality seems to be divided in two: one tough and cynical, the other shy and fearful. Richard Gere plays Martin Vail, the slick Chicago attorney who defends Aaron on charges of brutally murdering an archbishop who may have sexually molested Aaron and other boys in his parish. The courtroom suspense is nail-biting as the jaded hotshot Vail comes to care about the case and the defendant. This is one of the better legal dramas of recent years, with plenty of juicy twists and turns. Frances McDormand (who was soon to win an Oscar for Fargo) plays a psychiatrist. --Jim Emerson

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 11 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real.
Don't believe everything you see...

Mr. Vail, will you t-tell Miss Venable I'm sorry? Tell her I hope her neck is OK.

[Martin walks away and comes back realizing what Aaron said]

What did you just say?


You told me you don't remember. You black out. So how do you know about her neck?

[pauses and stammers, then starts clapping] Well... good for you, Marty. I was gonna let it go. You were looking so happy just now, I was thinking "hmmmm'? To tell you the truth, I'm glad you figured it. 'Cause I have been dyin' to tell you! I just didn't know who you'd wanna hear it from. Aaron or Roy or Roy or Aaron. Well I'll let you on a lil' secret, a client-attorney kind of secret. It don't matter who you hear it from, it's the same story! [stammering] I j-j-just had to kill Linda, Mr. Vail, that c*nt just got what she deserved. But... [speaking normally] cuttin' up that son of a b*tch Rushman? That was just a f***in' work of art! [Laughs]

[stunned] You're good. You are really good.

Yeah, I did get caught though, didn't I?

So there never...there never was a Roy?

Jesus Christ, Marty. If that's what you think, I'm disappointed in you. There never was an Aaron, counselor. [winks] Come on, I thought you had it figured there at the end. The way you put me on the stand like that, that was brilliant. The whole "act-like-a-man" thing. I knew what you wanted. It was like we were dancing, Marty!

[walking away] Guard!

Don't be like that, Marty. We did it, man! We f***ing did it! We're a great team, you and me. You think I could've done this without you? [Martin continues walking out] You're feeling angry because you started to care about old Aaron, but... love hurts, Marty! What can I say? I'm just kidding, bud! I didn't mean to hurt your feelings! What else was I supposed to do?! You'll thank me down the road, 'cause this'll toughen you up, Martin Vail! You hear me? That's a promise!

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