Physical Evidence

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Physical Evidence
Physical Evidence.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Crichton
Produced by Martin Ransohoff
Screenplay by Bill Phillips
Story by Bill Phillips
Steve Ransohoff
Music by Henry Mancini
Cinematography John A. Alonzo
Edited by Glenn Farr
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • January 27, 1989 (1989-01-27)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $17 million
Box office $3,560,932[1]

Physical Evidence is a 1989 crime thriller film directed by Michael Crichton (in his final film as a director), and stars Burt Reynolds, Theresa Russell and Ned Beatty. It follows an ex-police officer who is incriminated by the evidence, but insists on his innocence.


The film opens with the man parking the car, wearing the "Happy Now?" sign on his neck and attempting to jump off the bridge, but he finds the extortionist Jake Farley lying under it and grabs his foot with the rope, before the man discovers Jake dead and they fall and being hanged under the bridge, and the man survives and begs for help.

Meanwhile at the apartment, beleaguered ex-police officer Joe Paris wakes up with a splitting headache and blood on his shirt. He was drinking and cannot recall events of the night, before discovering his fingerprints, being committed a murder with a history of violence and getting arrested by detectives. The agents assigned public defender Jenny Hudson to meet and defend Joe. Developing a physical attraction to each other and having records at the court, Joe and Jenny arrive at "Farley's Bar & Lounge", where Joe meets Jake's brother, Matt and leaves the bar with Jenny, before escaping from the chase by the police cop.

Later that night while Kyle and others are absent, Jenny meets and converses with Deborah Quinn whose husband, Vincent left town and was killed at their house, and she involves with the death of Joe's wife two years ago. Deborah also tells Jenny that she meets Farley to have Vincent killed and that Farley refuses to give money back for her. Back at the apartment, Jenny argues with Joe about the murder trial and people lying to him, and asks for help, but Joe does not remember about Deborah and realizes that he is the prime suspect.

The next day after researching on the computer, Joe goes to the pier, where he beats Harry Norton and the gang and takes the car. The court reveals the past record that Jake was Kyle's father and the recording tape plays the voice that Joe demanding Farley for money and tapes.

As the case progresses about Tony Sklar and others, James Nicks shoots two men in the car and one of the police cop. While Jenny stays upstairs, Joe chases James but is injured on the sidewalk. Jenny tells James that Sklar is not there. They fight until Jenny disarms the gun from James, grabs it and shoots him dead. Jenny happily reconciles with Joe who recovers himself.



The film was distributed by Columbia Pictures between in the United States and Canada, with Rank Film Distributors handling foreign distribution. The film was produced by Martin Ransohoff who formed with Columbia, Rank Film Distributors and Vestron Video in 1986.

It was filmed in Boston, Massachusetts, and around Canada between Toronto and Montreal, and began production in September 1987. The film was under the title, Smoke. It is not a sequel to the 1985 film, Jagged Edge, which starred Glenn Close and Robert Loggia who declined their roles.

The character of Jennifer Hudson is changed to Jenny Hudson which is played by Theresa Russell.


The film was described by the Chicago Tribune as a "feeble thriller... the worst case of filmmaking-by-numbers, reflecting not an ounce of commitment or conviction".[2] The Los Angeles Times called it "flat and remote... a thriller that doesn't thrill."[3]


  1. ^ Physical Evidence at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Physical Evidence' has nothing to build its case Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 27 Jan 1989: CN37A.
  3. ^ 'Evidence' Guilty of Retrying Old Plots Wilmington, Michael. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Jan 1989: E6.

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