Top five… Movie Judges

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Judge Dredd is back. He’s a good judge and all, but cannot fully devote himself to the role since he’s also employed as police officer, jury and executioner as well. Oh, and according to the man himself, ‘I am…. The Law!’ too. Will Karl Urban be able to deliver that line with the same gusto as Sly Stallone? More importantly, will he be able to deliver judgement as judgementally as these guys?

5. Judge Chamberlain Haller – My Cousin Vinny
Everyone remembers Joe Pesci for his standout performance as the eponymous relative and ‘big shot’ lawyer, but he would have struggled without the brilliant Fred Gwynne as the exasperated small town judge who isn’t overly impressed by Vincent LaGuardia Gambini’s methods. Least of all with his pronunciation of ‘youth’, giving us the movie quote to rival ‘here’s looking at you kid’.

4. Jonathan Crane / Scarecrow – The Dark Knight Rises
Ok, so the Joker was a bit notable by his absence (‘Oh wow Gotham is being destroyed again by a costumed madman, just like that other guy last wee…’ ‘sshhh! Don’t mention the war!’) but this unexpected-ish cameo by Cillian Murphy is a delight once again. Presiding over a court of sorts in the new bizarrely-convoluted-bomb-plot threatened Gotham (even though Bane’s new regime seems to have been directly opposed to such bodies) Crane manages to hold the attention of psychopaths and murders for months, even though he only seems to dish out the same two sentences over and over. Which we find out are actually the same sentence.

3. Chief Judge Fargo – Judge Dredd
Guess what? Max Von Sydow doesn’t turn out to be the baddie in this one. In one of the canon’s grimmer concepts, retiring Chief Judges are forced to walk out of the sanctity of mega-cities and into the wilderness alone with nothing but a gun and a robe for all their years of hard service (not even a gold watch). We assume the elderly Fargo doesn’t last long out there, but he turns up just in time to save Stallone’s ass. He couldnt do anything to save this crappy film though.

2. Judge Elihu Smails – Caddyshack
It’s tough to pick a favourite character in what is unarguably (as in there’s no arguing against it) the greatest sports movie of all time. Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and the gopher all on top form, while Rodney Dangerfield is on fire as the obnoxious Al Czervik who descends on and destroys the snobbish Judge Smails’ blissful clubhouse microcosm. With a single expression of exasperation Ted Knight perfectly encapsulates what it would be like having Rodney Dangerfield jitter his way into your universe. Did somebody step on a duck?

1. The Queen of Hearts – Alice in Wonderland
She’s not even officially the judge in her courtroom (her meek husband actually holds the gavel) but Alice nor anybody else is going to point that out to the most terrifying villain in Disney’s rogues gallery. The feeling of claustrophobia and helplessness in this supposed children’s tale is truly unsettling, but never as much as when the psychotic matriarch is calling the shots. The chaotic courtroom set piece is the standout scene in a standout film, from ‘let me have it!’ to the mouse’s most important evidence yet, to softly growing menace in the delightfully unhinged Queen’s voice as she watches Alice shrink back down to a more swallowable morsel. Off with her head!!

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2 Responses to “Top five… Movie Judges”

  1. What about Judge Reinhold in Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Does he count?

  2. hehe. nice one, Andy

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