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The Accused
File:Accused ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jonathan Kaplan
Produced by Stanley R. Jaffe
Sherry Lansing
Written by Tom Topor
Starring Kelly McGillis
Jodie Foster
Music by Brad Fiedel
Cinematography Ralf D. Bode
Editing by O. Nicholas Brown
Gerard B. Greenberg
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) Template:Start date
Running time 111 minutes
Country Canada
Language English
Budget $6 million

The Accused is a 1988 Canadian drama film starring Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis, directed by Jonathan Kaplan and written by Tom Topor. Foster was awarded the 1988 Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award for her performance.

Based on the real-life gang rape of Cheryl Araujo that occurred at Big Dan's Bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on March 6, 1983, this film was one of the first Hollywood films to deal with rape in a direct manner.

Jodie Foster, for her portrayal as Sarah Tobias, earned the Academy Award for Best Actress, the film's sole nomination. The Accused also became the first film to win the Best Actress Academy award without being nominated in any other category since The Three Faces of Eve in 1957, when Joanne Woodward won Best Actress, the film's sole nomination.


The story is about a working-class woman, Sarah Tobias (Foster), labeled as promiscuous. One night in a bar, she is gang raped by several drunk bar patrons, while drunken onlookers cheer them on. A district attorney, Kathryn Murphy (McGillis), is assigned to the rape case, but she is persuaded by her superiors to let the rapists plead guilty to reckless endangerment and get a sentence that allows parole in less than a year. Sarah is enraged by the deal because she considers it a light punishment and because she did not get to tell her story in court.

When Sarah is hospitalized after ramming her car into a pickup truck, whose driver (one of the witnesses who had encouraged the rapists) crudely propositions her, Kathryn decides to prosecute the men who cheered the rape for criminal solicitation. Sarah's friend Sally, a waitress at the bar where the rape took place, picks three men out of a line-up, and they get three different attorneys for the ensuing trial. Sarah testifies that she was raped, while college student Kenneth Joyce, whose friend was one of the rapists, testifies to watching the rape prior to making a 911 call. After Kathryn's closing statement and a single summation from the three defense lawyers, the jury deliberates for a long time, asking several times for Ken's testimony to be reread to them. At the end, they find the three men guilty.

Main cast


Originally, Sigourney Weaver and Kelly McGillis were going to star as the A.D.A. and Sarah respectively. Jonathan Kaplan feared that Jodie Foster wasn't sexy enough and decided to cast Kim Basinger for the part of Sarah; however, Basinger declined. Molly Ringwald, a popular teen idol of the time, wanted the role of Sarah, but her parents turned down her offer because they feared she didn't want to play a twenty-something hooker at a young age. Kaplan gave Foster the part and her performance in the film was ultimately praised.

McGillis herself was a rape victim in real life. In 1982, she was assaulted and raped in her home by the escaped rapist Leroy Johnson after coming home from work.[1] This experience encouraged the actress to pursue her role in this film. Johnson was sentenced for other crimes to 50 years in prison in 2010.

According to the Internet Movie Database, production began on November 30, 1987 with filming commencing on January 6, 1988. Filming wrapped a month later on February 14, 1988, but was delayed due to the WGA Strike. The budget for the film was an estimated $ 6 million.[2]

Notably, the extended rape scene was shown only as one of the final scenes of the movie, in flashback.

Critical and scholarly reaction

The film was a critical success, garnering a 95% fresh rating on "Rotten Tomatoes". Of the two trials in the film, Roger Ebert finds that the lesson of the "second trial may be the most important message this movie has to offer," that "for some men, the movie will reveal a truth that most women already know," of the damage caused by verbal sexual harassment.[3]

Some educators worry that this "educationally profitable" film's R rating "will receive V ratings and be subject to at least a presumption against curricular use in many public schools."[4]

Box Office reception

Although the film performed moderately at the box office with a total gross of $32,078,318 dollars, it is considered a success considering its $6 million budget.[5][6]

See also


  1. Sex Offender Apologizes for McGillis Rape.
  2. [1]
  3. Roger Ebert, Review of The Accused Chicago Sun-Times October 14, 1988
  4. Marjorie Heins, "Three Questions About Television Ratings" The V-Chip Debate: Content Filtering from Television to the Internet, ed. Monroe E. Price. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers (1998): 54

External links

Template:Jonathan Kaplan

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