8 Kickass Courtroom Performances From Legendary Actresses, In Honor Of DOMA’s Day With SCOTUS

We’ve all got to do our part to help with the SCOTUS situation today, kids. I know I’m doing mine: Here are eight fabulous female performanes in courtroom movies to inspire you for the day ahead. Even if they drive younuts, you still qualify to look glamorously insane like Frances Farmer.

1. Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer

Joanna Kramer ditched her family not because she was bored of parenting (which I would’ve completely understood), but because her despair was so significant that she felt it best to remove herself from the home she shared with her obnoxious husband and tolerable son. Later, when she wanted custody of the scamp, she delivered a tearful monologue about painting clouds on bedroom walls and the misery of the Kramer household, concluding with the defiant line, “I am his mother.” Meryl famously wrote most of this great soliloquy, and knowing Meryl’s talents, she probably also sewed her own costume, constructed the set, and tried crying in four different colors before settling on “classic clear.”

2. Cher in Suspect

Cher is a lawyer. I don’t know what else you need to know, but fine: Ms. Sarkisian takes on the grim case of a deaf derelict charged with murder, and a juror (Dennis Quaid) begins to offer surprising help. Sure, Cher’s best work from 1987 is no doubt her Oscar-winning Cage-matching flair in Moonstruck, but I give the woman props for convincingly playing an attorney while maintaining a hairdo that looks like a topiary at Bob Mackie‘s house.

3. Marlene Dietrich, Witness for the Prosecution

Agatha Christie: boring the sh*t out of you in exotic locations since 1919. (Dare you to sit through Murder on the Orient Express, guys. Tony Perkins‘ horny-making lankiness can’t even save it.) The one anomaly in the Christie film oeuvre is Witness for the Prosecution, which features four amazing performances: gay screen god Charles Laughton, faint-worthy sex devil Tyrone Power, Elsa Lanchester (Laughton’s wife who went on to describe him as sincerely gay), and the glamorous Teutonic skull of Marlene Dietrich. She blazes onscreen before providing us with one of the greatest surprise endings in all of cinema. Also: Every pane on her face is sharpened with a ginsu knife.

4. Jessica Lange, Frances

Poor Frances Farmer. Not only did she ruin her potential for Hollywood stardom, but Jessica Lange couldn’t even win an Oscar for the performance of a lifetime as the beleaguered actress. (She settled for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Tootsie. Lesley Ann Warren and I both had a lot to say about that.) Um, could there be a finer courtroom scene? Here Frances argues that she’s sane, and you know how that always ends: with a screaming fit and kicks to a camerman’s face. Also, red alert: You do NOT think about Kim Stanley enough. Go on. Who else could play Masha in Three Sisters but her? Exactly.


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