Double Jeopardy (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Double Jeopardy
Film poster
Directed by Bruce Beresford
Produced by Leonard Goldberg
Written by David Weisberg
Douglas Cook
Starring Tommy Lee Jones
Ashley Judd
Bruce Greenwood
Annabeth Gish
Roma Maffia
Music by Normand Corbeil
Cinematography Peter James
Edited by Mark Warner
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • September 24, 1999 (1999-09-24)
Running time
105 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $70 million
Box office $177,841,558

Double Jeopardy is a 1999 American adventure crime-thriller film directed by Bruce Beresford and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Ashley Judd, and Bruce Greenwood. The film is about a woman who slipped away from her parole officer after being framed for the murder of her husband.


Nick Parsons (Bruce Greenwood) and his wife Elizabeth (Ashley Judd), known as Libby, are wealthy residents of Whidbey Island, Washington. He buys her a yacht and they set off sailing for the weekend. After a session of love making, Libby falls asleep. She wakes to find her husband missing and blood all over her hands, clothes, legs, and the boat's floors. A Coast Guard vessel appears and Libby is spotted holding a bloody knife she found lying on the deck. She is arrested, humiliated in the media, tried, and convicted of her husband's murder.

Libby asks her best friend, Angela Green (Annabeth Gish), to look after her 4-year-old son, Matty (Benjamin Weir), for the duration of her prison sentence. On a phone call with Matty from prison, Libby hears a door open in the background, then Matty exclaims, "Daddy!" right before the line goes dead.

Libby realizes that Nick possibly faked his death and framed her, leaving their son as the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policy, as people convicted for murder are not allowed to collect the life insurance on their victims. After attempting (unsuccessfully) to get investigative help, she is told by a fellow inmate named Margaret (Roma Maffia) that if she were to get paroled for good behavior, she could kill Nick with impunity due to the Double Jeopardy Clause in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Libby is paroled after six years and begins searching for Nick and Matty, while living in a halfway house under the supervision of parole officer Travis Lehman (Tommy Lee Jones). Libby violates her curfew and is caught breaking into Matty's school on Whidbey Island to try to get Angela's records, but manages to escape from Lehman and continue her search.

After discovering Angela has recently died in Colorado, Libby recognizes a Kandinsky painting in a newspaper photo. Tracing it through a dealer's database (which nearly again allows her capture by Lehman) leads her to New Orleans, where she finds Nick living a luxurious lifestyle under an assumed name, Jonathan Devereaux.

Libby confronts him after making a winning bid of $10,000 on him at a bachelor's auction. She demands he return Matty in exchange for her silence about his real identity. Nick agrees to bring Matty to a meeting in a cemetery. There he uses a decoy boy to distract Libby, knocks her unconscious, and locks her in a casket inside a mausoleum. Using a .38 caliber handgun she had snatched from Lehman, Libby manages to shoot the hinges off the lid of the casket and escape the mausoleum by throwing a flower vase through a stained glass window.

While tracking Libby in New Orleans, Lehman himself becomes suspicious of Nick's death and begins to believe Libby's story, based on the clues uncovered in his search. He finds a picture of a different Nicholas Parsons when searching the Washington State DMV records to prove his suspicions, and later confirms them when he uncovers six DMV records under that name, including Nick's DMV application and photograph. After seemingly capturing Libby later in the city, the two actually team up. Lehman visits Nick in his office under the pretense of asking for money to keep his identity secret. He records a remark by Nick that he had murdered his wife, the only witness to his true past. Libby enters, holding Nick at gunpoint. Nick is given a choice of surrendering to the authorities or getting shot by his vengeful wife, whom he believes would go free for this deed because of double jeopardy.

Nick responds with violence. In the ensuing melee, Nick pulls out a hidden gun, shoots Lehman, and fires away at Libby. Lehman manages to bring Nick down before he can shoot Libby. Nick gets the upper hand, but before he can kill the wounded parole officer, Libby shoots Nick dead.

Lehman promises to help Libby get fully pardoned. Together, they travel to Matty's boarding school in Georgia, where he is playing soccer. Matty (Spencer Treat Clark), now eleven years old, recognizes his mother and they embrace with Lehman watching them.


Production notes[edit]

Jodie Foster was originally attached to star in the film as Libby Parsons after Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan and Brooke Shields all declined the role, and Bruce Beresford met with her several times about the script:

"She said to me once, when we were having . . .not an argument, we had different points of view over something, and she said, 'We'll have to do it my way, I'm afraid.' And I said, 'Why, Jodie?' And she said, 'Because I'm so intelligent. I'm such an intelligent person that there is no point in disagreeing with me because I'm always right.' I thought she was joking, but she wasn't! [laughs] She had this extraordinary opinion of her own IQ."[1]

However, Foster then became pregnant so Ashley Judd stepped in. Greg Kinnear was offered the part of Nick Parsons, but he passed and Bruce Greenwood eventually took over. According to Beresford, Robert Benton did an uncredited ten-day rewrite shortly before production began. The song the band plays at the funeral in the cemetery scene is the American folksong, "St. James Infirmary Blues."

Legal accuracy[edit]

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states plainly: "[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . ."[2] The four essential protections included are prohibitions against, for the same offense: retrial after an acquittal; after a conviction; or after certain mistrials; and multiple punishment. The Double Jeopardy Clause has no bearing on separate crimes of the same nature. Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz criticized the movie for misrepresenting the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment.[3] "There are two separate incidents," Dershowitz points out. "She was falsely accused the first time. And maybe she can sue for that or get some credit. But then she committed an entirely separate, or at least planned to commit, an entirely separate crime the second time. And there's just no defense of double jeopardy for doing it the second time."

Moreover, as the Clause was interpreted by the Supreme Court in Heath v. Alabama (1985), a conviction in a Georgia state court would not bar a prosecution in a federal or a Louisiana state court, even for an identical offense.[4]


The film received mixed to generally negative reviews. It is rated 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, as its "consensus" states: "A talented cast fails to save this unremarkable thriller."[5] Roger Ebert gives the film two and a half stars out of four, indicating a lukewarm reception.[6]

However, some critics reacted to this film with positive reviews. Leonard Maltin gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "slick entertainment".[7] Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the film is a "well-acted diversion, directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) with an intelligent grasp of the moment-to-moment emotion".[8] For her performance in the film Ashley Judd won Favorite Actress at the 6th Blockbuster Entertainment Awards.[9]

Box office[edit]

The film was a box office success, spending three weeks as the No. 1 film, and grossing $116 million domestically and $61 million overseas.[10]

VHS and DVD release[edit]

Double Jeopardy was released on VHS and DVD by Paramount Home Video on February 22, 2000. The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and its original theatrical trailer. It is presented in its original 2.35:1 widescreen format.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Andrew L. Urban, BERESFORD, BRUCE : DOUBLE JEOPARDY, Urban Cinesfile accessed 11 November 2012
  2. ^ Harper, Timothy (October 2, 2007). The Complete Idiot's Guide to the U.S. Constitution. Penguin Group. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-59257-627-2. However, the Fifth Amendment contains several other important provisions for protecting your rights. It is the source of the double jeopardy doctrine, which prevents authorities from trying a person twice for the same crime… 
  3. ^ "Alan Dershowitz Discusses Double Jeopardy Clause in Fifth Amendment". October 5, 1999. 
  4. ^ George C. Thomas III, When Constitutional Worlds Collide: Resurrecting the Framers' Bill of Rights and Criminal Procedure, 100 Mich. L. Rev. 154, 158 n.49 (2001).
  5. ^ Double Jeopardy. Rotten Tomatoes.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. Double Jeopardy. Sep. 24. 1999.
  7. ^ Leonard Maltin; Luke Sader; Mike Clark (2008). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. Penguin Group. p. 374. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9. 
  8. ^ LaSalle, Mick. Criminally Good. San Francisco Chronicle. September 24, 1999
  9. ^ "Blockbuster Entertainment Award winners". Variety (magazine). May 9, 2000. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  10. ^ Double Jeopardy. Box Office Mojo.

External links[edit]