Primal Fear (film)

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Primal Fear is a 1996 film about an altar boy who is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.

Directed by Gregory Hoblit. Written by Steve Shagan and Ann Biderman, based on the novel by William Diehl.
Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real. taglines

Martin Vail[edit]

  • First thing I ask a new client is, "Have you been saving for a rainy day? Well, guess what? It's raining!"
  • Why gamble with money when you can gamble with people's lives? That was a joke. All right, I'll tell you. I believe in the notion that people are innocent until proven guilty. I believe in that notion because I choose to believe in the basic goodness of people. I choose to believe that not all crimes are committed by bad people. And I try to understand that some very, very good people do some very bad things.

Aaron Stampler/Roy[edit]

  • I got you now. You're the lawyer. You're his lawyer, ain't you? With your fancy suit. I heard about you. Well, my, my, you sure fucked this one up, counselor. Sounds to me like they're gonna shoot old Aaron so full of poison it'll come out his eyes!
  • He come crying to me like always, stuttering and whining. "I ca-can't take it no more, Roy. You g-got to help me". I said, "Shut your mouth, you little girl! Grow up. Be a man. Take care of yourself".


  • Janet Venable: Do you know what I would do if someone did that to me? I would kill him—I wouldn't hesitate. I would stab him 78 times. I would chop off his fingers, slash his throat open, carve numbers in his chest, gouge out his eyes, I swear to God! But that's me.
  • Judge Miriam Shoat: You are making a mockery of my courtroom, and I'm not going to allow it. I suggest you start representing your client and stop representing yourself.


Martin: On my first day of law school, my professor says two things: First, 'From this day forward, when your mother tells you she loves you, get a second opinion'".
Jack Connerman: [chuckles] And?
Martin: "'If you want justice, go to a whorehouse. If you wanna get fucked, go to court'".

Martin: Yeah, I'm Martin Vail, from the Public Defender's office. I'm handling the Aaron Stampler case.
Cop: Hmm, the Butcher Boy.
Martin: Yes, thank you. I forgot his real name.

Martin: Come on... all you have to do is turn around.
Janet: I thought you liked it better like this. That way you don't have to look at the person.
Martin: You're mean. Look at me. Come on. Let's go find a bar you can still smoke in.
Janet: Thanks for the invite, but I don't like one-night stands all that much.
Martin: We saw each other for months.
Janet: It was a one-night stand, Marty. It just lasted six months.

John Shaughnessy: Listen to me, Marty—it's a mistake to stick your thumbs in the eyes of the most powerful people in the city.
Martin: I'm not aiming for their eyes.
John Shaughnessy: Don't fuck with me, Marty.

Janet: [arguing before the judge] Next thing you know, he'll be objecting to introducing the murder weapon into evidence!
Martin: Well, now that you bring it up...

Martin: [to Shaughnessy in court] It's confusing to me because I have document here from your office that says last year Michael O'Donnell spoke to the supervisor of that unit over a period of two weeks explaining to him - in graphic detail - of the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Archbishop Rushman. Isn't it also true, Mr. State's attorney, that your "friend" Archbishop Rushman was not going to stand trial for any of it? He owed you big time. You must've been very pissed off when he pulled out of the South River construction deal. What happened? He finally said "I can't take it anymore" and you said "no". You and your investors had sixty millions reasons to kill him!
Janet: Objection!
Judge Miriam Shoat: Sustained! You're out of order, Mr. Vail!
Martin: [whispering under his breath] That's for Joey Pinero.
John Shaughnessy: [whispering to Vail] You son of a bitch!

Judge Miriam Shoat: [in her chambers] If you think you're going to my courtroom to wage personal vendettas and settle old scores, you are sorely mistaken! I'm striking Shaughnessy's testimony from the record as irrelevant and I'm holding you in contempt in the amount of ten thousand dollars!
Martin: So... what you're telling me is my client can't get a fair trial in your courtroom?
Judge Miriam Shoat: Be very careful what you say in here, Mr. Vail! You're on dangerous ground here!
Martin: Fine! Do you want me to make that check out to you judge?

Janet: No further questions, Your Honor.
Roy: Where the hell do you think you're goin'?
Janet: Excuse me?
Roy: Hey! You look at me when I'm talkin' to you, bitch!
Judge Miriam Shoat: Mr. Stampler!
Roy: Fuck you, lady! Come here!
[Roy jumps over the witness stand and grabs Janet and punches Martin]
Judge Miriam Shoat: Bailiff!
Roy: You wanna play rough, let's play rough. Come on, let's play rough!
[Bailiff and Security slowly walk toward Roy]
Roy: Yeah, keep comin' closer, asshole. Don't think I won't break her fuckin' neck!
Martin: Roy, come on. I got—
Roy: Fuck you, Marty! I'm walkin' outta here slowly. Really slow.

Martin: [in Judge Miriam Shoat's chambers] You OK?
Janet: Am I OK? Do I seem OK? I get attacked by this sick twisted... I've lost the case and out of a job! So no, I'm not particularly OK, but you won! Justice was done, so who the hell cares, right? Congratulations! You knew didn't you? You knew if I went after him he'd wig out up there.
Martin: I knew he'd come out if he was threatened.
Janet: Who better to do that than me? You used me.
Martin: Yeah, I did. I had no choice. And what did I use that was so terrible? I knew you'd do your job and I knew you'd try to win the case. What's wrong with that?
Janet: I lost my fucking job.
Martin: And that's good. You should've left them years ago.
Janet: Oh, Jesus! Why do you think you always know what's best for me?

Aaron: Mr. Vail, will you t-tell Miss Venable I'm sorry? Tell her I hope her neck is OK.
[Martin walks away and comes back realizing what Aaron said]
Martin: What did you just say?
Aaron: What?
Martin: You told me you don't remember. You black out. So how do you know about her neck?
Aaron: [pauses and stammers, then starts clapping] Well... good for you, Marty. I was gonna let it go. You were looking so happy just now, I was thinking 'hmmmm'? To tell you the truth, I'm glad you figured it. 'Cause I have been dyin' to tell you! I just didn't know who you'd wanna hear it from—Aaron or Roy or Roy or Aaron. Well, I'll let you in on a lil' secret, a client-attorney kind of secret. It don't matter who you hear it from—it's the same story! [stammering] I j-j-just had to kill Linda, Mr. Vail; that cunt just got what she deserved. But... [speaking normally] cuttin' up that son of a bitch Rushman? That was just a fuckin' work of art! [Laughs]
Martin: [stunned] You're good. You are really good.
Aaron: Yeah. I did get caught though, didn't I?
Marty: So there never— there never was a "Roy"?
Aaron: Jesus Christ, Marty. If that's what you think, I'm disappointed in you. There never was an "Aaron", counselor. [winks] Come on, I thought you had it figured there at the end. The way you put me on the stand like that, that was brilliant. The whole 'act-like-a-man' thing—I knew what you wanted. It was like we were dancin', Marty!
Martin: [walking away] Guard!
Aaron: Don't be like that, Marty. We did it, man! We fuckin' did it! We're a great team, you and me. You think I could've done this without you? [Martin continues walking out] You're feelin' angry because you started to care about old Aaron, but... love hurts, Marty! What can I say? I'm just kiddin', bud! I didn't mean to hurt your feelings! What else was I supposed to do?! You'll thank me down the road, 'cause this'll toughen you up, Martin Vail! You hear me? That's a promise!


  • Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real.
  • Don't believe everything you see...


External links[edit]

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