November 12, 1979 12:00 PM

In the satirical tradition of Network and The Hospital, this movie gets on the case of the criminal justice system. Al Pacino, in another Serpico-like role, is a young lawyer whose dogged pursuit of justice makes him stand out in a corrupt Baltimore court house. His fight to get clients a fair shake from two judges, one too hardened to care (John Forsythe) and the other too loony (Jack Warden), seems frighteningly real. The point of the film—that justice is elusive or even unobtainable—is made so well that sometimes it’s hard to know whom to root for. Still, any movie this shocking and funny has accomplished a great deal. Not the least of the pleasures is a supporting cast that includes acting coach Lee Strasberg, 77, as protégé Pacino’s senile grandfather and newcomer Christine Lahti as Al’s girlfriend. (R)

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