|Reversal of Fortune|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barbet Schroeder|
|Screenplay by||Nicholas Kazan|
|Based on||Reversal of Fortune: Inside the von Bülow Case|
by Alan Dershowitz
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Edited by||Lee Percy|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$15.4 million|
Reversal of Fortune is a 1990 American drama film adapted from the 1985 book Reversal of Fortune: Inside the von Bülow Case, written by law professor Alan Dershowitz. It recounts the true story of the unexplained coma of socialite Sunny von Bülow, the subsequent attempted murder trial, and the eventual acquittal of her husband, Claus von Bülow, who had Dershowitz acting as his defense. The film was directed by Barbet Schroeder and stars Jeremy Irons as Claus, Glenn Close as Sunny, and Ron Silver as Dershowitz. Screenwriter Nick Kazan originally envisioned Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer in the role of Claus von Bülow, but was thrilled with Irons' performance. Irons earned the 1990 Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film.
The story is narrated by Sunny von Bülow, who is in a coma after falling into diabetic shock after a Christmas party. Her husband, the dissolute European aristocrat Claus von Bülow, is charged with attempting to murder the hypoglycemic Sunny by giving her an overdose of insulin. Claus's strained relationship with his wife and his cold and haughty personal demeanor led most people to conclude that he is guilty. In need of an innovative defense, Claus turns to law professor Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz is initially convinced of Claus's guilt, but takes the case because von Bülow agrees to fund Dershowitz's defense of two poor black boys accused of capital murder. Employing his law students as workers, Dershowitz proceeds to defend Claus, wrestling with his client's unnerving personal style and questions of von Bülow's guilt or innocence.
- Glenn Close as Sunny von Bülow
- Jeremy Irons as Claus von Bülow
- Ron Silver as Alan Dershowitz
- Uta Hagen as Maria
- Annabella Sciorra as Sarah
- Fisher Stevens as David Marriott
- Jack Gilpin as Peter MacIntosh
- Christine Baranski as Andrea Reynolds
- Stephen Mailer as Elon Dershowitz
- Felicity Huffman as Minnie
- Johann Carlo as Nancy
- Keith Reddin as Dobbs
- Mitchell Whitfield as Curly
- Tom Wright as Jack
- Michael Lord as Ed
- Lisa Gay Hamilton as Mary
- Julie Hagerty as Alexandra Isles
- Bill Camp as Bill
The film was shot in numerous estates in Rhode Island and New Jersey, and the Knole house in Old Westbury. At least one courtroom scene was shot at the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department in Brooklyn, New York.
The film received mostly positive reviews and holds a 92% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 7.89/10 from 48 reviews. The site's consensus states: "Featuring exceptional performances and a cunning script, Reversal of Fortune doubles as a tantalizing mystery and ruthless satire of the rich."
Awards and honors
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2003: AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- 2008: AFI's 10 Top 10:
- Nominated Courtroom Drama Film
- State v. von Bulow, 475 A.2d 995 (R.I. 1984).
- "Reversal of Fortune (1990)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
- "EW's 25 Best Movies in 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 13 August 2016.
- "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). 16 November 2011. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
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