The Lawyer (film)

The Lawyer is a 1970 courtroom drama film loosely based on the Sam Sheppard murder case, in which a physician is charged with killing his wife following a highly publicized and sloppy investigation. The film was directed by Sidney J. Furie, starring Barry Newman as the energetic, opportunistic defense attorney Tony Petrocelli and Diana Muldaur as his Ruth Petrocelli. The supporting cast features Robert Colbert and Kathleen Crowley (in her final role). The film is the source of the role Newman reprised in the TV series Petrocelli.

The Lawyer
Directed bySidney J. Furie
StarringBarry Newman
Diana Muldaur
Harold Gould
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • May 15, 1970 (1970-05-15)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States


Tony Petrocelli is a Harvard-educated attorney of Italian heritage who practices in an unidentified part of the American Southwest. He works (and drives) at a frenetic pace, not only because he is a zealous advocate for his defendants (which includes a regular run of drunks and other small-time criminal cases) but because of the vast distances of western prairie he must cross in order to meet clients, investigate his cases and make court appointments.

A big case lands in his lap when he is asked to defend a young, prosperous physician who expects to be charged with the bludgeoning murder of his socialite wife.


Paul Mavis, reviewing The Lawyer for Movies & Drinks, wrote, "Too long and yet too vague, The Lawyer is at least passably entertaining…but someone should have made a motion to strike about 30 minutes of it from the record."."[1]


  1. Mavis, Paul. "The Lawyer (1970)". Movies & Drinks. Retrieved 2014-10-03.
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