I am a HUGE Helen Mirren fan so I have watched the David Mamet movie Phil Spector many times. I cannot say I am certain that Spector is innocent, but like Mirren’s character, real-life Jersey Girl and whiz-bang defense attorney, Linda Kenney Baden at the end, I have a reasonable doubt that he is guilty.
One thing I know for sure: If Spector had not had a collection of guns at his mansion, if he had had no guns, Lana Clarkson would not have died of a gunshot, very likely accidentally by her own hand, in his house, and he would probably be a free man today.
This story first appeared in the August 13, 2013 issue of Variety.
“I went kicking and screaming, the guy’s a thug, he’s a lowlife, da da da.” His change of mind about the man’s fascination parallels that of consulting attorney Linda Kenney Baden (Helen Mirren), whose reflex certainty of her man’s guilt slowly gives way to passionate belief in his innocence.
Sophisticated themes of rooted-out prejudice and ideology raise the pic out of the realm of the courtroom procedural, though Mamet insists his topic was never the trial: “The movie is about what might have happened backstage.”
(Please note that although it is not mentioned in the article, Linda Kenney Baden cooperated in the production of the movie and is cited in the credits.)
It is the “backstage” reenactments by the defense team that instill the reasonable doubt. Like Kenney Baden, I do not see how he could have done it. But certainty that the whole incident was completely avoidable comes with an exchange between Spector, played by Al Pacino, and Kenney Baden, played by Mirren, when she discovers a wall where guns, now removed by police, had been on display.
By FRAZIER MOORE Mar. 21, 2013
The difficulties of the case seem beyond the wherewithal of Spector’s original attorney (played by Jeffrey Tambor in a robust supporting performance), who has brought in hotshot lawyer Linda Kenney Baden (the splendid Helen Mirren). She takes over as lead attorney and, as the film unfolds, joins Spector in a verbal pas de deux that teems with Mamet’s shrewd dialogue:
“Why do you have so many guns?” she inquires on her first visit to his sprawling castle home near Los Angeles, where the shooting took place.
“I might need one,” he replies.
“Why would you need more than one?
“How many shoes do you have?” he poses. “How many feet?”
It was an excellent, lawyerly question. What is obvious and never leaves you after you hear Spector’s account of the incident is that had there been no guns, of the many things that could have happened that night, a death by gunshot would not have been one of them. Maybe a disturbed and intoxicated young woman did ask if he had any guns. Maybe she did do something she thought was sexy, and maybe the whole thing blew up in her face – literally – and in his life.
I truly do doubt, after watching this movie, that Phil Spector killed Lana Clarkson. He is in prison, essentially, because he kept guns in his house. That’s the danger with guns. They can backfire on you.