Best Movies You’ve Never Seen: GUILTY AS SIN

guilty as sin
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Larry Cohen
Released June 1993

This mystery/thriller stars Rebecca de Mornay as Jennifer Haines, a successful criminal defense attorney who specializes in representing high-profile defendants, including mob bosses. One day she’s approached by David Edgar Greenhill (Don Johnson), a man who has been accused of killing his wealthy older wife, and wants her to defend him. Although she initially refuses, she quickly changes her mind and decides to take him on as a client. David has basically been a womanizing gigolo for most of his life, with his dead wife just being the latest in a long string of women that he has seduced and slept with in exchange for money and material things. He continued this behavior even after getting married, and claims that his wife was despondent when she discovered his infidelity and therefor set him up by committing suicide by jumping out the window to their high-rise apartment and making it look like he killed her (she asked him to open the window earlier that morning so that his fingerprints would be on it, and wrote a letter to her sister saying she was afraid that David was planning to kill her).

At first Jennifer believes in his innocence, despite David’s cocky demeanor. But as she continues investigating the case and the trial begins, Jennifer begins to see another side to David’s personality. He begins acting obsessive towards her, following her around and getting in the way of her relationship with her boyfriend, Phil (who is played by Stephen Lang), with even her colleagues beginning to suspect that she and him are having an affair. Jennifer eventually comes to believe that David did in fact kill his wife, even though it looks like she’s going to win this case and get him off. At this point David has made it clear that he has plans for he and her after he’s a free man, and that he’s not above using deadly force against anyone (including Phil) who gets in their way…

Don Johnson shines in this role as he alternatively displays charm, wit, arrogance and hints of malevolence, all at the right times. Small scenes like when he walks into Jennifer’s office building and says hi to all of the women in the office, addressing them by name, while ignoring the men, help show how he’s had such success with women. For most of the film we’re left wondering whether he really did kills his wife or not. De Mornay also does well, showing Jennifer’s internal conflicts as she begins to suspect David’s guilt. I’ll also single out the Late Jack Warden who plays an older friend and mentor to Jennifer who helps investigate David’s background on Jennifer’s behalf.

This is an engrossing film that keeps your interest from the beginning to the explosive ending.

GRADE: A


GUILTY AS SIN

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