Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Walter Matthau, Jill Clayburgh, Barnard Hughes, Jan Sterling, James Stephens
Written by: Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee, based on their play
Directed by: Ronald Neame
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: -99
Date: 03/18/2013
IMDB

First Monday in October (1981)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Court and Spark

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Ronald Neame's 1981 comedy about the first female Supreme CourtJustice received a lukewarm welcome in its day, due to the much moreinteresting real-life appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor. Nevertheless,this is a smart, funny and surprisingly relevant Adam's Rib-likeaffair with liberal Justice Snow (Walter Matthau) going head-to-headwith conservative Justice Loomis (Jill Clayburgh). Loomis' pet issuesinclude trying to censor a pornographic film and defending an evilcorporation. Matthau stands on the First Amendment and attempts to provethat OmniCorp bought and buried a prototype engine that would runwithout fuel. Neame more or less presents both sides as equal, though 23years later, there's no question who's right and who's wrong. The filmbogs down in the final third with a heart-attack scene and a few otherhistrionics, but nonetheless First Monday in October is a real findand deserves consideration alongside Neame's better known The Horse'sMouth and Hopscotch. Paramount's new DVD is presented in a niceletterboxed transfer (1-to-2.35) but contains no extras.

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