First Monday in October

Synopsis: Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh star in this dramatic comedy that centers around the appointment of the first woman to the U.S. Supreme Court. She is aggressive, witty, magnetic and an arch-conservative. He is wry, opinionated and resoundingly liberal. One hundred and one men have preceded the new female justice to seat on the bench of the nation’s highest court, but now it’s eight men and her. All unanimously accept their new colleague-except Matthau, “The Great Dissenter,” He becomes the source of her fury, her challenges, her antagonism…and finally, her loving admiration. Matthau and Clayburgh are unforgettably and hilariously opposed in this contemporary tale that goes behind the bench with wit, wisdom and great conviction.

First Monday in October 8.5

Based on a play, and retaining much of its stage-bound flavour despite some impressive location filming, this dramedy showcases a battle of will between United States Supreme Court Justices, as a long-standing liberal judge (Walther Matthau) tries to come to grips with his new colleague (Jill Clayburgh), the first female appointee to the Supreme Court.

I fell in love with ‘First Monday in October’. I enjoyed all the banter, the behind-the-scenes political goings on, and the cast, which is mostly limited to a handful of character actors (there are only 9 judges in total!). I also enjoyed the “battle of the sexes” angle of the story, which would have been spot-on in 1981.

I will want to revisit this one frequently – it was a very nice surprise! Frankly, I had expected it to be a lukewarm affair serving only to provide minor life-support to Matthau’s career in his waning years. Not so: it’s potent, entertaining and it kept my mind sharp late in the evening. I could hardly ask for more.

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