Jagged Edge (film)

Jagged Edge is a 1985 American neo-noir[1] courtroom drama erotic thriller film written by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Richard Marquand. The film stars Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges, Peter Coyote[2] and Robert Loggia (who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role).[3][4]

Jagged Edge
Directed byRichard Marquand
Produced byMartin Ransohoff
Written byJoe Eszterhas
Music byJohn Barry
CinematographyMatthew F. Leonetti
Edited bySean Barton
Conrad Buff
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • October 4, 1985 (1985-10-04)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million
Box office$40,491,165


An intruder in a black mask ties up San Francisco socialite Paige Forrester at her remote beach house and kills her with a hunting knife. He writes the word "Bitch" on the wall with her blood. Her husband Jack is arrested for her murder by Thomas Krasny, a district attorney. Jack tries to hire high-profile lawyer Teddy Barnes to defend him. Barnes used to work for Krasny, and she is reluctant to take the case, as she stopped working in criminal law after an incident with Krasny.

Krasny runs into Barnes. He tells her that "Henry Styles hanged himself in his cell," which distresses her. Barnes visits Sam Ransom, a private detective who used to work for Krasny's office as well. He stopped private investigations at the same time that Barnes left Krasny's office, and it becomes clear that the Styles case was the reason. Barnes decides to take the case.

While preparing for the trial, Barnes and Forrester spend a great deal of time together, and eventually sleep together. Ransom warns Barnes that Forrester is just trying to make her care more about his case. Her office begins receiving anonymous typed letters that mention things about the case. All of the letter t's are slightly raised, and analysis determines that they were written on a 1942 Corona typewriter.

In a pre-trial meeting, Barnes tells the judge that Krasny has a history of not meeting his discovery obligations. The prosecution's case relies mainly on circumstantial evidence. Witness Ginny Howell testifies that Paige told her she was divorcing Jack, but Barnes discredits her with evidence, including a love letter, that her advances had been rejected by Jack, causing Paige to cut off all communication with her. Barnes discredits Anthony Fabrizi, a locker-room attendant at a private club who claims to have seen a hunting knife in Forrester's locker, when he admits that the knife was in another member's locker.

Krasny calls Eileen Avery, who had an affair with Forrester. As Avery details her relationship with Forrester, Barnes finds it eerily similar to her own relationship with Forrester. She feels manipulated and now believes Forrester is guilty, but agrees to continue out of a sense of duty. Another note arrives at her office saying, "He is innocent. Santa Cruz. January 21, 1984. Ask Julie Jensen."

Barnes interviews Jensen, who testifies at the trial that she was attacked in the same manner as Paige Forrester. All the details match, but she says her attacker seemed to stop himself from killing her. As Krasny objects that the attack on Jensen is unrelated to the one on Forrester, he lets slip that his office had investigated the attack and not revealed it in discovery. In chambers, the judge threatens to have Krasny disbarred. Krasny insists that Forrester staged the earlier attack in order to create an alibi of sorts for Paige's murder, which he had planned for 18 months. Krasny also insists that Forrester has been sending Barnes the anonymous notes.

After Forrester is found not guilty, Barnes announces to the media that she left Krasny's office over the Henry Styles case, where Krasny suppressed evidence that proved Styles was innocent. Krasny walks off in disgust.

Barnes goes to Forrester's house to celebrate, and they sleep together again. In the morning, she discovers a typewriter in his closet. She tests it, and the "t" is raised, just as in the anonymous notes. She throws clothing over the typewriter and flees with it, pretending to Forrester that her little boy is sick.

When Forrester calls, she tells him that she found the typewriter. Forrester says that he is baffled and that he is coming over. Barnes calls Ransom, on the brink of telling him that Forrester is a killer, but instead hangs up. A masked figure breaks in and confronts her in her bedroom. As he starts to attack, Barnes throws back the covers to reveal her gun. She shoots him several times until he falls to the floor. Ransom comes in and unmasks the attacker: It is Forrester (with a look of dismay frozen on his face).


Actress Maria Mayenzet briefly appears, in the opening scene, as murder victim Page Forrester.


According to Joe Eszterhas, the film originated with producer Martin Ransohoff, who wanted to make a courtroom drama in the vein of Anatomy of a Murder. The film was originally written as a vehicle for Jane Fonda, who later turned down the project.


Jagged Edge received positive reviews from critics. It currently holds an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews. Variety called it "well-crafted" overall and praised the performances of its two lead actors.[5] Janet Maslin of The New York Times also praised the performances, but thought the film predictable.[6] Roger Ebert described the suspense in the film as "supremely effective" and rated the movie 3 1/2 stars.[7]


Sony Pictures announced in 2018 that a remake of Jagged Edge is in the works with Oscar winning actress Halle Berry starring. [8]

Abandoned sequel

The film Physical Evidence was originally conceived as a sequel to Jagged Edge and was meant to have Glenn Close and Robert Loggia reprise their roles. The story was about a private investigator framed for murder and the female lawyer who defends him. The project was developed at Columbia Pictures but then head of production Guy McElwaine was replaced by David Puttnam, who, according to producer Martin Ransohoff, said that he did not want to make sequels (Puttnam denied this, saying his problem was the script "wasn't good and for no other reason... when there's a terrific script for Jagged Edge II Columbia will be anxious to make it".). Ransohoff decided to turn the script into an original story. "It's a good mystery on its own terms," he said. "I think the story is really more effective as an original. Because there wasn't an agreement with Loggia and Close, we had always designed the project to go either as a sequel or on its own terms."[9]


  1. Silver, Alain; Ward, Elizabeth; eds. (1992). Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (3rd ed.). Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-479-5
  2. Maslin, Janet (1985-10-04). "'Film' Glenn Close As Attorney In Jagged Edge". The New York Times.
  3. "THE 58TH ACADEMY AWARDS - 1986". Oscars.org. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  4. Jr, Mike Fleming (6 April 2018). "Halle Berry At Center Of 'Jagged Edge' Remake At Sony Pictures". Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  5. Review: 'Jagged Edge' (1984-12-31). Variety. Retrieved online from Variety.com 2015-01-27.
  6. Maslin, Janet (1985-10-04). "Jagged Edge (1985) Film: Glenn Close as Attorney in 'Jagged Edge' ." NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  7. Ebert, Roger (1985-10-04). "Jagged Edge." Movie review. RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  8. https://variety.com/2018/film/news/halle-berry-jagged-edge-remake-writer-1202876271/]. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. Klady, L. (9 August 1987). "OUTTAKES". Los Angeles Times. (subscription required)
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