The Lawyer (film)

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The Lawyer
The Lawyer FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Sidney J. Furie
Starring Barry Newman
Diana Muldaur
Harold Gould
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • May 15, 1970 (1970-05-15)
Running time
120 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Lawyer is a 1970 courtroom drama film loosely based on the Sam Sheppard murder case, in which a physician is charged with killing his wife following a highly publicized and sloppy investigation. The film was directed by Sidney J. Furie and starred Barry Newman as the energetic, opportunistic defense attorney Tony Petrocelli. Diana Muldaur co-starred as Ruth Petrocelli. The film is the source of the role Newman reprised in the TV series Petrocelli.


Tony Petrocelli is a Harvard-educated attorney of Italian heritage who practices in an unidentified part of the American Southwest. He works (and drives) at a frenetic pace, not only because he is a zealous advocate for his defendants (which includes a regular run of drunks and other small-time criminal cases) but because of the vast distances of western prairie he must cross in order to meet clients, investigate his cases and make court appointments.

A big case lands in his lap when he is asked to defend a young, prosperous physician who expects to be charged with the bludgeoning murder of his socialite wife.

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