Guilty Conscience (film)

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Guilty Conscience is a 1985 American TV movie, produced by CBS Entertainment, directed by David Greene, starring Anthony Hopkins as criminal defense attorney Arthur Jamison. The film is a drama, but also a mystery, with as many twists and turns as Arthur's own conniving mind.


Arthur, a wealthy attorney (Anthony Hopkins) is facing a costly divorce from his wife Louise (Blythe Danner). Arthur deals with the predicament by imagining numerous schemes in which he kills her. As a defense attorney, Arthur is familiar with both the courts and the minds of criminals, and he spends much of the film consulting an officious imaginary version of himself (a double played by Donegan Smith) as to the perfect scheme to rid himself of Lousie. Arthur plays each murder, or the subsequent trial, through in his mind, searching for problems, loopholes, and the elusive watertight alibi.

Eventually Arthur's mistress Jackie Willis (Swoosie Kurtz) confronts Louise in secret. The two concoct their own scheme to do away Arthur and make it look like suicide. The two confront Arthur at gunpoint, planning to stage his murder as a suicide. Unfazed, Arthur takes control of the situation, pointing out the flaws and poking holes in what was supposed to be a foolproof scheme. Arthur is revealed to have been cheating on Jackie, and while Louise was trying to murder him, he was being missed by a date, thus ruling out suicide.

Worse, Arthur reveals that he had been recording the entire episode on tape, with which he blackmails Louise. Louise, hysterical at the collapse of her plan, chases her husband with the gun. A brief struggle ensues, and she is shot dead. Ironically, Louise's accidental death implicates Arthur for murdering her. Arthur was only bluffing about the tape, leaving no evidence that the shooting was an accident other than the word of Jackie, his mistress. All of the evidence points to Arthur deliberately murdering his wife. Arthur now imagines himself in court, his imaginary self now his prosecutor.

At this point, the film shows Arthur back at home, again poking holes in the scheme, now revealed to be yet one more of his unrealized plans.

At this point Louise arrives home, shoots him dead, and phones Jackie to inform her that the deed is done. The film ends with Louise rearranging the living room to cover up evidence of murder.

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