My Mentor, Vinny

My, campers. How time flies.

Twenty years ago, this week, that den of liberal depravity called Hollywood produced a pearl.

Twenty years ago, this week, 20th Century Fox released "My Cousin Vinny."

You know what this means? Many of the associates at my firm were not old enough to see this movie without their parents in tow when it came out.

Yeah. Think on that for a minute.

I would never have thought that it had been that long, but the nice folks at the Abnormal Use Blog pointed it out. They are generating some nationwide blawgbuzz about the anniversary.

After the jump is my little contribution.

For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, first, I'm sorry you have been living under a rock for two full decades. You have missed out on all the cultural references and allusions of this cinematic masterpiece.

The plot: a classic northern/southern/red state/blue state tale set in a small town in Alabama. "Two New Yorkers are accused of murder in rural Alabama while on their way back to college, and one of their cousins--an inexperienced, loudmouth lawyer not accustomed to Southern rules and manners--comes in to defend them." (Internet Movie Database). 

As preposterous as it seems, one can imagine a northeastern governor in such a town saying "y'all" and talking about grits and stuff. I know. Could never happen.



Aside from Marisa Tomei's deservedly Oscar winning performance as the out-of-work-hairdresser/fiance/automotive expert, we are also treated to many invaluable life lessons and practice pointers during the film

First, the importance of first impressions and acting "lawyerly" before the bench--treating the court with the dignity and respect that it deserves: 



Or the importance of punctuality, lest the court suspect that you're "on drugs."


When speaking to the jury, be direct and to the point--but not too direct.



Don't ask a witness--especially an expert witness--a question to which you do not know the answer:



Enhance the persuasive power of expert testimony by heightening drama: "I would LOVE to hear DIS."


And most of all, one must gracefully balance the pressures of work with the home front whilst in trial:


Vincent Laguardia Gambini, you are my mentor. Nay, you are my real American hero. 20 years on, this film still has it.

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Stuart Mauney - March 12, 2012 12:27 PM

Thanks for joining our firm's celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of My Cousin Vinny. Our own Rob Green has a post today on the lessons to be learned from Vincent Gambini!

Ted McAusher - March 12, 2012 4:01 PM

Love the movie, but I'm ashamed to say that I never saw the practical lessons from it before this post. I haven't watched it in a few years, maybe if I watch it again I'll pick something up.

Kendall - March 13, 2012 7:27 AM

Ted, it's a great film even beyond the comedic moments. Vinny actually tries a very effective case. Note the contrast between his examination of the elderly woman about her vision and the public defender's examination of another witness on the same topic. Leave out the comedic facts and just note the technique. Vinny shows. The public defender only tells. Vinny also stays open to learning (about grits) and keeps his eyes open.

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