The Chamber Movie Streaming
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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…
Director: James Foley Writers: John Grisham (novel), William Goldman (screenplay)
Chris O’Donnell, Gene Hackman and Faye Dunaway
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For me, this is the best role of Hackman’s career, and one of Oscar’s most overlooked roles. His character was as revolting, cold, and repugnantly racist as a human being could be, but Hackman played Sam Cayhall as a person with a surprising depth and emotion that, although you couldn’t exactly like him, you find yourself quietly hoping his death penalty will be overturned as he plumbs the depths of his evil deeds and confronts his past. The scene when Fay Dunaway’s Lee Cayhall Bowen comes to see Sam in the hours before his execution is as good as it gets. Lee asks if Sam would have killed Joe Lincoln when she was young had she spoken up, Sam tells her yes. You KNOW, you SEE, that he wouldn’t have, but in seeing the toll that the guilt of a lifetime of believing it was her fault had exacted from his daughter, Sam lied. Sam redeemed her sanity in that lie, gave her life the peace she never had and, in many ways, redeemed himself. Although Dunaway is only 11 years younger than Hackman, she handily pulls off the role of Cayhall’s emotional, conflicted and alcoholic daughter Lee. She has spent her life hiding from whom she is, both from the community and herself, the crimes of her father, and the stigma it has brought. Chris O’Donnell is just as good as Sam’s grandson, Adam Hall, who is now a lawyer. Hall’s father had changed the family surname to also escape the stigma of being the son of the murdering Klansman Cayhall. Apparently by design, Hall works for the firm who handles his grandfather’s case, although he keeps his grandfather’s identity a secret until he requests to take on the final death penalty appeal. Along the way, Hall learns the unpleasant reality of who he is, the bitter hate and ugliness bred into his grandfather, and insight into the truth of why his father had committed suicide when Hall was a young boy. This film, although unpleasant in theme, is full of stellar performances and by far the most nuanced and conflicted character Gene Hackman has ever played. If you haven’t seen The Chamber, get it, it’s worth the watch.
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Filed Under: Drama