The Chamber (1996)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  11 October 1996 (USA)
5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 10,139 users   Metascore: 45/100
Reviews: 46 user | 38 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

A young man fresh out of law school tries to win a reprieve for his racist grandfather who is on death row.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
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E. Garner Goodman
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Rollie Wedge / Donnie Cayhall (as Raymond Barry)
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Sgt. Clyde Packer
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Nora Stark
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Gov. David McAllister
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Judge Flynn F. Slattery
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Atty. Gen. Roxburgh
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Wyn Lettner
Greg Goossen ...
J.B. Gullitt (as Gregory Goossen)
Seth Isler ...
Marvin B. Kramer
...
Ruth Kramer
Sid Johnson ...
Josh Kramer
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Storyline

Having survived the hatred and bigotry that was his Klansman grandfather's only legacy, young attorney Adam Hall seeks at the last minute to appeal the old man's death sentence for the murder of two small Jewish boys 30 years before. Only four weeks before Sam Cayhall is to be executed, Adam meets his grandfather for the first time in the Mississippi prison which has held him since the crime. The meeting is predictably tense when the educated, young Mr. "Hall" confronts his venom-spewing elder, Mr. "Cayhall," about the murders. The next day, headlines run proclaiming Adam the grandson who has come to the state to save his grandfather, the infamous Ku Klux Klan bomber. While the old man's life lies in the balance, Adam's motivation in fighting this battle becomes clear as the story unfolds. Not only does he fight for his grandfather, but perhaps for himself as well. He has come to heal the wounds of his own father's suicide, to mitigate the secret shame he has always felt for the ... Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

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Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent images and some language | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

11 October 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Kammer  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,612,095 (USA) (11 October 1996)

Gross:

ITL 419,247,000 (Italy) (6 June 1997)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The story of the freakish execution that Sam tells Adam, about a condemned prisoner beating his head against a metal pole inside the gas chamber, is a true story. It happened to Mississippian Jimmy Lee Gray in 1983. See more »

Goofs

Sam Cahall states that the new law allowing him to opt for lethal injection applied only to inmates convicted after 1984. Actually it was just the opposite: Those convicted after 1984 could only have lethal injection. Before 1984 convicts could choose between lethal injection and the gas chamber. See more »

Quotes

Lee Bowen: We come from a long line of hate.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Conspiracy Theory (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Sister
Written by John Humphrey, Jesse Davis (as Jeffe Davis), Zac Maloy, Ricky Brooks
Performed by The Nixons
Courtesy of MCA Records
By Arrangement with MCA Special Markets & Products
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User Reviews

 
an attorney tries to get his grandfather off death row
10 September 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Chris O'Donnell and Gene Hackman star in "The Chamber," a 1996 film featuring Faye Dunaway, Robert Prosky, and Lela Rochon.

O'Donnell plays Adam Hall, a young man just out of law school who takes on the case of a KKK member about to be executed for a bombing years earlier that took the life of two boys. Their father, who lost his leg, later committed suicide. The man in question, Sam Cayhall (Hackman), is due to die in the gas chamber, as he was convicted before 1984 and therefore isn't eligible for the chair. He's also Adam's grandfather.

The bombing and the Klan history in the Cayhall line has wrecked Adam's family. They changed their name after the incident, and his father committed suicide and left his son a note with instructions to clean everything up before his mother got home. His aunt (Faye Dunaway) is a socialite who still lives in the south and has never told anyone who she is but has suppressed her pain with alcohol. Adam has no use for his grandfather, but he believes someone else made the bomb and wants to find out what really happened.

The movie is based on a John Grisham novel and, despite the reviews, I thought it was good and powerful, mostly thanks to the performance of Gene Hackman. Somehow, he manages to create a real human being - a bigot, a Klan member, a killer, but somehow human. His monologue at the end of the film made me cry, which is ridiculous because he was a terrible man.

Faye Dunaway was great; Chris O'Donnell is pleasant enough but he never seemed to me movie star material. I would have preferred to see someone like Matthew McConaughey, someone with a little fire, in this role.

This is a story of a history of hate, the ghosts of the dead, politics, and a search for closure. Compelling.


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