The Firm


2h 33m 1993
The Firm

Brief Synopsis

Tom Cruise learns that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is, when he accepts an excessively lucrative offer from a Memphis firm after graduating from Harvard Law. In this thriller from director Sydney Pollack, based on the bestselling novel by John Grisham, Cruise's ambitious character Mitch McDeere discovers that the firm's prosperity is a direct result of its mob ties. When the murders and seductions pile up, Mitch must get to the truth and get out alive. Also starring Oscar winner Gene Hackman, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Paul Sorvino, and Ed Harris.

Film Details

Also Known As
Firman, firme
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Thriller
Release Date
1993
Distribution Company
PARAMOUNT PICTURES/UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES (UIP)
Location
Washington, DC, USA; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Cayman Islands; Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 33m

Synopsis

Tom Cruise learns that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is, when he accepts an excessively lucrative offer from a Memphis firm after graduating from Harvard Law. In this thriller from director Sydney Pollack, based on the bestselling novel by John Grisham, Cruise's ambitious character Mitch McDeere discovers that the firm's prosperity is a direct result of its mob ties. When the murders and seductions pile up, Mitch must get to the truth and get out alive. Also starring Oscar winner Gene Hackman, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Paul Sorvino, and Ed Harris.

Crew

David L Abell

Consultant

Stephanie Antosca

Assistant Production Coordinator

Andy Armstrong

Stunt Coordinator

Brian Armstrong

Assistant Camera Operator

Joyce Arrastia

Assistant Editor

David Beadle

Dialogue Editor

Jennifer Blair

Production Assistant

Steve Bowerman

Boom Operator

Bill Bradford

Construction Coordinator

Randy Bricker

Apprentice

Sharleen Bright

Art Department

David Brink

Camera

Brooke Brooks

Assistant

Charles Brown

Dolly Grip

Robert Bruce

Electrician

Lauren Buckley

Assistant

David L Butler

Camera

Gerry Byrne

Construction Manager

Debbie Charboneau

Assistant Production Coordinator

Marjorie Chodorov

Accounting Assistant

Tom Clark

Electrician

Cathleen Clarke

Assistant Production Coordinator

Drew Clarke

Craft Service

Ann Cockerton

Art Assistant

Lucy Coldsnow-smith

Foley Editor

Ed Connelly

Aerial Unit

Carla Corwin

Assistant Director

John Craigmile

Accountant

Eric Davidson

Location Manager

John Davis

Producer

Richard Davis

Transportation Captain

Kim Davis-wagner

Extras Agent/Coordinator

Andrew J. Day

Lighting

Richard Dean

Makeup

Mathilde Decagny

Animal Trainer

Michael Dellheim

Location Manager

Michael Dick

Location Manager

Lindsay Doran

Executive Producer

Jo Doster

Location Casting

Michael Doven

Assistant

Francois Duhamel

Photography

Mary Kate Edmonstone

Other

Bruce Ericksen

Costume Supervisor

Ken Estes

Special Effects

Jenny Evans

Assistant

Mark Fabert

Foreman

William Farley

Hair Stylist

James C. Feng

Assistant Art Director

Scott Ferguson

Unit Manager

Mo Flam

Chief Lighting Technician

Carmen Flores De Tanis

Assistant Sound Editor

Jessica Gallavan

Adr Editor

Michael Gastaldo

Assistant Property Master

Thomas Gilbert

On-Set Dresser

Claudia Gilligan-ivanjack

Art Department

John Grisham

Source Material (From Novel)

Dave Grusin

Music

John Haeny

Sound Effects Editor

Yael Haffner

Art Department Coordinator

Casey Hallenbeck

Set Decorator

Barbara Harris

Voice Casting

Scott Harris

Assistant Director

Michael Hausman

Unit Production Manager

Michael Hausman

Executive Producer

Rachel Heilpern

Wardrobe Assistant

D. M. Hemphill

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Jerry Henery

Foreman

Phil Hetos

Color Timer

A Mcrae Hilliard

Transportation

J Paul Huntsman

Sound Editor

Steven Husch

Assistant Set Decorator

Steven Jackman

Assistant Camera Operator

Jerry Jackson

Transportation Coordinator

Chris Jargo

Adr Editor

Chris Jenkins

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Derek Johansen

Production Assistant

Sunny Wayne Johnson

Grip

David Jones

Helicopter Pilot

Carol King

Assistant

Jonathan Klein

Foley Editor

Robin Knight

Grip

Lisa Knudson

Assistant

Tom Ladwig

Production Assistant

Larry Leggett

Other

Gary Lewis

Dialogue Editor

Vicki R Lybrand

Transportation

Richard Macdonald

Production Designer

David Macmillan

Sound Mixer

Elton Macpherson

Production Accountant

Bobby Mancuso

Assistant Camera Operator

Karen Marmer

Post-Production Supervisor

Wende Martin

Craft Service

Joseph Mcafee

On-Set Dresser

Marjorie Mccown

Assistant Costume Designer

Leo Mcdaniel

Production Assistant

David Mcgiffert

Assistant Director

Lee Mclemore

Grip

Lisa Maria Miller

On-Set Dresser

Robin L Miller

Property Master

Dennis Milliken

Other

Theresa Repola Mohammed

Negative Cutting

John Monsour

Graphics

Paul Murphey

Video Assist/Playback

Don Murray

Music

Ruth Myers

Costume Designer

Myron Nettinga

Sound Effects Editor

Phill Norman

Titles

Ben Nye Jr.

Makeup Supervisor

Donna Ostroff

Assistant

Randy Ostrow

Location Manager

David Page

Costumes

Kevin Patterson

Other

Sydney Pollack

Producer

Jennifer Portman

Assistant Sound Editor

Peggy Pridemore

Assistant Production Coordinator

Lyndell Quiyou

Hair Stylist

David Rabe

Screenplay

Anne Rapp

Script Supervisor

David Rayfiel

Screenplay

Spencer H Register

On-Set Dresser

Luke Reichle

Costumes

Darin Rivetti

Production Assistant

Pete Romano

Photography

Jeff Rosen

Foley Editor

David Rubin

Casting

Scott Rudin

Producer

Carolann Sanchez-shapiro

Assistant Sound Editor

John R Saunders

Production Assistant

Adam Sawelson

Dialogue Editor

Matthew G Sawelson

Dialogue Editor

Riko Schatke

Grip

Doug Schwartz

Steadicam Operator

Doug Schwartz

Camera Assistant

John Seale

Dp/Cinematographer

John Seale

Director Of Photography

Nanette Siegert

Production Coordinator

Joel Sill

Music

Doug Sims

Production Assistant

Mark Smith

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Paul Sorvino

Other

Steven D Spallone

Electrician

Fredric Steinkamp

Editor

Karl Steinkamp

Assistant Editor

Robert Steinkamp

Apprentice

William Steinkamp

Editor

Ian Stone

Assistant Location Manager

Daniel Strol

Location Manager

Amy Taksen

Casting Associate

Mike Thompson

Assistant

Robert Towne

Screenplay

Chris Ubick

Props Assistant

Mark Van Loon

Steadicam Operator

Mark Van Loon

Camera Operator

Sam Velasco

Production Assistant

John G. Velez

Electrician

Joe Viterelli

Other

Tommy Walker

Grip

David Weathers

On-Set Dresser

Ted Whitfield

Music Editor

John Willett

Art Director

Darryl Wilson

Electrician

Jeanine Wilson

Assistant

Michael T Wilson

Assistant Editor

Steve Wolf

Special Effects

Alonzo Woods

Location Coordinator

Frank Woodward

Caterer

Debra Zane

Casting Associate

Film Details

Also Known As
Firman, firme
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Thriller
Release Date
1993
Distribution Company
PARAMOUNT PICTURES/UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES (UIP)
Location
Washington, DC, USA; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Cayman Islands; Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 33m

Award Nominations

Best Original Score

1993

Best Supporting Actress

1993
Holly Hunter

Articles

The Firm


Before The Firm became the best-selling novel in America, John Grisham was a civil litigation attorney who had won a seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He might have continued on that political path if Paramount executive Lance Young hadn't been bowled over by the unpublished manuscript of The Firm in December of 1989. Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, had been rejected by 26 publishers, and was eventually released by the tiny Wynwood Press. The Firm had already been rejected four times before Young paid $600,000 for the film rights. That spurred Doubleday to acquire it for publication, adding another $200,000 to Grisham's coffers.

The Firm was an enormous hit for Doubleday in 1991, selling an astonishing seven million copies before the film version was made in 1993. Lance Young's bet had paid off beyond his wildest dreams. But they still had to make the movie, and now with the intense pressure of blockbuster expectations. The film would be produced by Scott Rudin and John Davis, who had both originally sent the manuscript to Young for consideration. As with all producers in the 1990s, Rudin and Davis immediately targeted Tom Cruise, going so far as to meet him on the set of A Few Good Men (1992), circumventing his agents, which was against studio rules. According to the AFI Catalog, they wanted him to both direct and star.

He only expressed interest in starring, which depended on who they hired as director. Variety reported Paramount's interest in Lili Fini Zanuck, Kevin Reynolds, John McTiernan, John Badham and Ron Howard before they got reliable veteran Sydney Pollack under contract. The screenplay went through multiple drafts, including work by David Rabe, David Rayfiel and Robert Towne. Rabe was left off the official credit list and would successfully sue to be added.

The Firm follows hotshot young law student Mitch McDeere (Cruise) as he is wooed by every major law firm in America during his final year in Harvard Law School. Along with his schoolteacher wife Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn), they turn down the big coastal firms to take a job in Memphis with Bendini, Lambert & Locke, led with regal authority by Oliver Lambert (Hal Holbrook). They offer him the highest salary and a familial atmosphere that appeals to Mitch, who grew up in a broken home and had to scrap his way to the top. But the firm has its secrets, as Mitch soon discovers when two of the firm's lawyers die of suspicious circumstances in the Cayman Islands.

Mitch starts seeing the security director William Devasher (a harrumphing Wilford Brimley) around every corner and has a strange encounter with an FBI agent (Ed Harris). With his suspicions skyrocketing, the firm pushes senior lawyer Avery Tolar (Gene Hackman) to take him under his wing. Tolar is an avuncular glad hander of the old school, whose gruff charm isn't enough to keep Mitch from digging into the firm's dirty laundry. Another death puts Mitch in the crosshairs of the FBI, the firm and organized crime. Only his legal training, his resourceful wife and the creatively mischievous secretary Tammy (Holly Hunter) are there to help him out of this lethal jam.

The film adaptation tweaks the book's ending to titillating ends, but audiences didn't seem to mind, as it trailed only Jurassic Park (1993) and The Fugitive (1993) in domestic grosses, making over $158 million. Seen today, it's remarkable a legal thriller with no CGI apocalypses could be a blockbuster. But the novel was a national phenomenon, Tom Cruise was as bankable a star as there was and Sydney Pollack delivered a workmanlike thriller with meaty performances throughout. While Cruise makes a sympathetic babyface hero, it's the conflicted Avery Tolar who is the heart of the film. A corrupted man exhausted by the toll of his crimes, Gene Hackman turns him into tragic collateral damage to the firm's moral-warping crimes. Playing him as a playboy gone to seed, he looks exhausted and his suits are as worn out as his jokes. And in the final act, when he could reassert his villainy, he instead falls deeper into sleep, waiting for the world to disappear.

The massive success of The Firm made Grisham adaptations a Hollywood addiction throughout the 1990s - they would adapt his grocery lists if they could. There were seven total films made in the decade, though none ever made as much money as The Firm.

By R. Emmet Sweeney
The Firm

The Firm

Before The Firm became the best-selling novel in America, John Grisham was a civil litigation attorney who had won a seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He might have continued on that political path if Paramount executive Lance Young hadn't been bowled over by the unpublished manuscript of The Firm in December of 1989. Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, had been rejected by 26 publishers, and was eventually released by the tiny Wynwood Press. The Firm had already been rejected four times before Young paid $600,000 for the film rights. That spurred Doubleday to acquire it for publication, adding another $200,000 to Grisham's coffers. The Firm was an enormous hit for Doubleday in 1991, selling an astonishing seven million copies before the film version was made in 1993. Lance Young's bet had paid off beyond his wildest dreams. But they still had to make the movie, and now with the intense pressure of blockbuster expectations. The film would be produced by Scott Rudin and John Davis, who had both originally sent the manuscript to Young for consideration. As with all producers in the 1990s, Rudin and Davis immediately targeted Tom Cruise, going so far as to meet him on the set of A Few Good Men (1992), circumventing his agents, which was against studio rules. According to the AFI Catalog, they wanted him to both direct and star. He only expressed interest in starring, which depended on who they hired as director. Variety reported Paramount's interest in Lili Fini Zanuck, Kevin Reynolds, John McTiernan, John Badham and Ron Howard before they got reliable veteran Sydney Pollack under contract. The screenplay went through multiple drafts, including work by David Rabe, David Rayfiel and Robert Towne. Rabe was left off the official credit list and would successfully sue to be added. The Firm follows hotshot young law student Mitch McDeere (Cruise) as he is wooed by every major law firm in America during his final year in Harvard Law School. Along with his schoolteacher wife Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn), they turn down the big coastal firms to take a job in Memphis with Bendini, Lambert & Locke, led with regal authority by Oliver Lambert (Hal Holbrook). They offer him the highest salary and a familial atmosphere that appeals to Mitch, who grew up in a broken home and had to scrap his way to the top. But the firm has its secrets, as Mitch soon discovers when two of the firm's lawyers die of suspicious circumstances in the Cayman Islands. Mitch starts seeing the security director William Devasher (a harrumphing Wilford Brimley) around every corner and has a strange encounter with an FBI agent (Ed Harris). With his suspicions skyrocketing, the firm pushes senior lawyer Avery Tolar (Gene Hackman) to take him under his wing. Tolar is an avuncular glad hander of the old school, whose gruff charm isn't enough to keep Mitch from digging into the firm's dirty laundry. Another death puts Mitch in the crosshairs of the FBI, the firm and organized crime. Only his legal training, his resourceful wife and the creatively mischievous secretary Tammy (Holly Hunter) are there to help him out of this lethal jam. The film adaptation tweaks the book's ending to titillating ends, but audiences didn't seem to mind, as it trailed only Jurassic Park (1993) and The Fugitive (1993) in domestic grosses, making over $158 million. Seen today, it's remarkable a legal thriller with no CGI apocalypses could be a blockbuster. But the novel was a national phenomenon, Tom Cruise was as bankable a star as there was and Sydney Pollack delivered a workmanlike thriller with meaty performances throughout. While Cruise makes a sympathetic babyface hero, it's the conflicted Avery Tolar who is the heart of the film. A corrupted man exhausted by the toll of his crimes, Gene Hackman turns him into tragic collateral damage to the firm's moral-warping crimes. Playing him as a playboy gone to seed, he looks exhausted and his suits are as worn out as his jokes. And in the final act, when he could reassert his villainy, he instead falls deeper into sleep, waiting for the world to disappear. The massive success of The Firm made Grisham adaptations a Hollywood addiction throughout the 1990s - they would adapt his grocery lists if they could. There were seven total films made in the decade, though none ever made as much money as The Firm. By R. Emmet Sweeney

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video December 16, 1993

Released in United States Summer June 30, 1993

Meryl Streep was at one time mentioned to play a female version of the character Avery, who in the book is a womanizing male attorney.

Tom Cruise reportedly received $12,000,000 for this film.

Tom Cruise reportedly received $12,000,000 for this film.

Began shooting November 9, 1992.

Completed shooting March 20, 1993.

Rights to "The Firm" were purchased by Paramount for a reported $600,000.

Robin Wright was originally set to play Abby McDeere.

Released in United States Summer June 30, 1993

Released in United States on Video December 16, 1993