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Legal Eagles

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Comedy, Crime, Romance

Music director
Elmer Bernstein

United States


Ivan Reitman

Initial DVD release
July 29, 1998



Legal Eagles movie poster

Release date
June 18, 1986 (1986-06-18)

Ivan Reitman (story), Jim Cash (story), Jack Epps Jr. (story), Jim Cash (screenplay), Jack Epps Jr. (screenplay)

Robert Redford
(Tom Logan),
Debra Winger
(Laura J. Kelly),
Daryl Hannah
(Chelsea Deardon),
Brian Dennehy
Terence Stamp
(Victor Taft),
Steven Hill

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Tom Logan has a law partner who put a dog on the witness stand. A client who can't enter a room without a crime being committed. And a case that could turn out to be the murder of the year. His.

Legal Eagles is a 1986 American legal crime comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman, written by Jim Cash and Jack Epps, Jr. from a story by Reitman and the screenwriters, and starring Robert Redford, Debra Winger, and Daryl Hannah.


Legal Eagles movie scenes


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Tom Logan (Robert Redford) is an Assistant District Attorney in the New York City District Attorney's Office, who is on his way to becoming the new District Attorney. Into his life enters Laura Kelly (Debra Winger), an attorney who is representing Chelsea Deardon (Daryl Hannah). Chelsea is accused of stealing a painting from millionaire Mr. Forrester (John McMartin). However, Chelsea claims that the painting is actually hers, as her father made it for her and signed it to her on her 8th birthday 18 years ago – the same day that her father and most of his paintings went up in smoke in a mysterious fire.

Kelly eventually manages to talk Logan into helping them (after she creates an impromptu press conference at the dinner where Logan is being introduced as the new candidate for District Attorney). However, things turn even more mysterious when Forrester suddenly drops all charges against Chelsea since he has swapped the painting for a Picasso with museum curator Victor Taft (Terence Stamp), Kelly and Logan find out about this after they go to Forrester's house to ask him about the alleged crime. That night police detective Cavanaugh (Brian Dennehy) comes up with proof that the paintings that supposedly were lost in the fire—which were worth millions in insurance—are still in existence and that Chelsea's father was murdered and the murder was covered up, something which he claims put a strain on his career since it was his investigation. Chelsea also continues coming on to Logan, coming to his apartment being fearful of someone following her. When Logan goes to investigate, he is shot at but the shooter misses and escapes. Logan agrees to continue trying to protect Chelsea while Kelly and him continue her investigation into the paintings. After an attempt by Taft to blow up a warehouse with incriminating information—which almost blows Logan and Kelly up as well—Logan and Kelly find evidence of a massive insurance fraud between Taft, Deardon and Joe Brock, a third man who was sent to prison.

Chelsea goes to Taft's apartment with a gun, with the intent to threaten him and obtain information. What happens then is not seen but Chelsea goes back to Logan's apartment after being there. She tells him what she had done, claims that Taft managed to get the gun from her and hit her and she is now afraid of the repercussions. Logan's daughter from his ex-wife, Jennifer (Jennifer Dundas), is there and does not take kindly to her which leads her to worsen Logan's ex-wife's view on what is actually happening when she comes to take their daughter to her home and finds Chelsea in Logan's apartment. After they are alone Logan makes Chelsea a bed for her to sleep on her own but during the night Chelsea goes into Logan's bed and he fails to resist, they sleep together. Next morning police bust into Logan's room waking both up and arresting Chelsea for Taft's murder. Logan's career as an Assistant District Attorney is finished. Logan reluctantly teams up with Kelly, which is also encouraged by Logan's daughter who thinks the two make a good couple. Realizing that a sculpture Taft claimed to them was priceless but told Chelsea was worthless, Logan goes to find Cavanaugh while Kelly and Chelsea go to an exposition in honor of Taft to find the sculpture. Before they can make it far an assassin tries to run them over with a car, saving Kelly the lawyers split ways long enough for Logan to go on his way pursuing the assassin who fights back but fails to kill Logan since he is hit by a taxi, taking this opportunity Logan steals the man's wallet with information he had taken from them through a bug while Kelly comes to his rescue in Logan's car that she barely manages to drive there since she does not know how to drive. They split again with Logan going to the police department to find Cavanaugh and have him bring the police force while Kelly and Chelsea go to Taft's museum where the exposition in his honor is being held. There, the person they thought was Cavanaugh reveals himself as Joe Brock, Logan finds out on his own since the real Cavanaugh is a different man, a cop that wasn't aware that someone had been using his identity. Logan, having realized that Cavanaugh was not who he thought he was, races to the gallery. Brock forces Kelly and Chelsea to break open the hollow sculpture, grabs the painting inside and cuffs Chelsea to a table while struggling with Kelly, eventually leaving her unconscious. He then sets fire to another part of the gallery, forcing an evacuation as a way to leave with the painting and without anyone noticing. Logan arrives and interrupts Brock's escape, Logan and Brock fight, with Brock eventually falling to his death. Logan finds Kelly and Chelsea, grabs the painting and the three escape from the burning gallery, where Chelsea tearfully reveals the signature "To Chelsea" on the back of the painting. After all charges against Chelsea are dropped, Logan's former boss offers to take him back, based on Logan's publicity. Logan, however, decides to stay with Kelly, and the two set up an office together.

Tom Logan's speech to the jury

  • Tom Logan: Ladies and gentlemen, Chelsea Deardon didn't kill Victor Taft. The prosecution has suggested a possible motive, but one based on hearsay, conjecture and circumstantial evidence. Evidence that appears to have some substance, but upon closer examination, will prove to have no relevance whatsoever to this case.
  • (Logan stops and looks at the jury)
  • Tom Logan: You're not buying this, are you? You're not listening to a word I'm saying. Yeah? Guess what? I don't blame you. After listening to Mr. Blanchard lay out the prosecution's evidence, even I'm convinced my client murdered Victor Taft.
  • (There are murmurs of surprise in the courtroom.)
  • Tom Logan: After all, if I had found Victor Taft, dead on the floor, and Chelsea Deardon's fingerprints on the weapon, there isn't much that would convince me she isn't guilty. Look, let's save ourselves a lot of time. Let's be honest. There are better things we could be doing. Who thinks Chelsea Deardon's guilty?
  • (The jurors start raising their hands. The judge tries to interrupt Logan's speech as Logan points out his hand is also raised, the judge is in the process of calling for a new jury and have Logan arrested while a juror asks if they shouldn't at least give her a fair trial, which prompts Logan to tell the judge that he believes this jury is capable of coming to a fair verdict and conclude his speech)
  • Tom Logan: So we all think she's guilty. What do we do? That's a dilemma, isn't it? A problem because we've developed a legal concept in this country to protect ourselves - to protect our rights - and it's called presumption of innocence. In simpler words that means that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. That means that whatever assumptions you've already made Chelsea Deardon must be seen in your eyes, believed in your minds, understood in your hearts, to be innocent.
  • (Then the defense continues with its case.)
  • Production

    The script was written by Jim Cash and Jack Epps who were represented by Creative Artists Agency (CAA). The film was originally meant to be a vehicle for Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray, the latter a CAA client, and was written as a buddy movie. Murray pulled out and then Robert Redford, another CAA client, expressed interest in doing a romantic comedy, so it was rewritten to be a Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn-type movie. It was set up at Universal, run by CAA client Frank Price and directed by Ivan Reitman, another CAA client. Tom Mankiewicz was called in to rewrite the script.


    The film's score was composed and conducted by Elmer Bernstein, his final collaboration with Ivan Reitman. The soundtrack album was released by MCA Records, featuring selections from the score re-recorded in England under the composer's baton, and the songs "Good Lovin'" by The Rascals, "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf, and Daryl Hannah's "Put Out The Fire" (which she performs onscreen). Due to "Love Touch" being a Warner Bros. Records exclusive, it does not appear on the album.


    The film received mixed reviews and holds a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 15 critics.

    With production costs of $40 million, the film was one of the most expensive ever released up to that point. It grossed a total of $49,851,591 in North America and $43,300,000 internationally, totaling $93,151,591 worldwide.


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