The Star Chamber

YEAR: 1983

LENGTH: 109 minutes

CAST: Sharon Gless, Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto, James B. Siking, Joe Regalbuto

SYNOPSIS: **1/2: Young judge, frustrated by having to turn rapists and murderers free because of legal technicalities, is drawn into a secret judicial society. Well done, but too predictable, and ultimately too unbelievable to really score. From Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide, 1994.


Rating 3 out of 5: Slick, implausible, politically compromised thriller. Young trial jude Steve Hardin (Michael Douglas), frustrated with a criminal justice system that allows rapists and murderers to go free, is introduced to the "Star Chamber" by fellow jurist Benjamin Caulfield (Hal Holbrook). It's a clandestine society of nine judges who have decided to take law and punishment into their own hands. They meet secretly and hire hit men to rub out bad guys freed on "technicalities." Hardin goes along at first, but when he discovers that the Star Chamber has marked two innocent men for death, he sets out to stop the hired killer and expose the vigilantes. Taut, if occasionally silly, the film is hampered by ideological confusion. Director Peter Hyams doesn't seem to know if he's making a reactionary DEATH WISH clone or a liberal problem film. Sharon Gless played the character of Emily Hardin.

From Halliwell's Film Guide, 8th Edition

Judges get together to retry defendants who have been unjustly freed,and then have them executed by hired assassins. A bit hard to swallow; also overlong and rather unpleasant.

(from another source) A judge frustrated by the lenient legal system joins a secret group of judges who have set up their own court which operates outside the scope of the law. When verdicts are reached on two men who are later discovered to be innocent, serious ethical questions arise in this taut and interesting thriller.

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