The Pelican Brief
More About The Pelican Brief
Julia Roberts (ERIN BROCKOVICH) stars in THE PELICAN BRIEF as sharp law student Darby Shaw whose querying mind gets her into trouble. A faithful adaptation of John Grisham's (THE FIRM) best-selling novel, this taut thriller follows the travails that beset Shaw when her theory on the cause of the deaths of two Supreme Court Justices lands her name on the conspirators' hit list. When Shaw teams up with reporter Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington--THE HURRICANE) they find themselves dodging deadly assassins in a suspenseful story that weaves complex narrative strands. The well-cast film also features a cameo by playwright-actor Sam Shepard (TRUE WEST).
Main Cast & Crew
Alan J. Pakula - Director
James B. Sikking
In Alan J. Pakula's (KLUTE) thriller THE PELICAN BRIEF Julia Roberts plays Tulane University law student Darby Shaw. After the consecutive murders of two Supreme Court Justices, she becomes intrigued with the case and assembles a brief on her theory of who committed the murders. However, things start to get tricky when those who've read her brief turn up as corpses, which prompts her to enlist help from Washington Herald reporter Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington). Their further gathering of evidence to prove her hypothesis only results in moving their names up on the hit-list. Replete with cameo roles by high-profile actors such as playwright Sam Shepard (TRUE WEST) as the law professor with whom Shaw has an affair, this box office hit closely follows popular novelist John Grisham's (THE FIRM) best-selling book. The film's themes are in line with late director Pakula's abiding interest in conspiracy drama, a topic explored in many of his best films such as ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN and THE PARALLAX VIEW.
Theatrical Release: December 17, 1993. The film was based upon John Grisham's best-selling novel THE PELICAN BRIEF. Other films based on John Grisham novels include: THE FIRM (1993), THE CLIENT (1994), THE CHAMBER (1996), A TIME TO KILL (1996), THE RAINMAKER (1997). Roberts's film ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000) also features a character that uncovers corruption in a powerful organization. According to ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY Julia Roberts could be seen reshooting the closing scene of THE PELICAN BRIEF a mere three weeks before its scheduled opening. Per an article in PREMIERE magazine, Roberts was instrumental in casting leading man Denzel Washington. Roberts runs her own production company which is based in New York City. She is one of the most popular female box office draws in Hollywood history. Her brother Eric is also a known actor. Roberts was once married to country musician-turned-actor Lyle Lovett.
"...A celebration of liquid brown eyes and serious star quality....[Roberts and Washington] make the movie shine..." - 12/17/1993 New York Times, p.C1
"...A taut, intellectual thriller....Roberts is simply terrific....Washington also impresses..." - 12/20/1993 Variety
"...Roberts returns from her time off with a newly confident grace....She's as luminous as a dream of a movie star. As for Washington, it's doubtful whether there's a smarter leading man working today..." - 12/24/1993 Entertainment Weekly, p.38