Trial by Jury (1994) (NTSC)

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Released 15-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Diabolique; Silent Fall
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 102:14 (Case: 107)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Heyward Gould

Warner Home Video
Starring Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
Armand Assante
Gabriel Byrne
William Hurt
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Terence Blanchard

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The FBI have finally caught the slick mob boss Rusty Pirone (Armand Assante), and are set to take him to trial for murder. He has eluded trials in the past, and this time the FBI is determined to make the conviction stick. Rusty is ruthless and is determined to do anything in his power to remain out of jail, even if that means killing again.

    Valery Alston (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer) is a single mother content with running her antique clothing store and raising her young son. Against the wishes of her father and friends, she decides it is her moral obligation to accept when she is picked for jury duty. Her father feels that as a small shop owner and single mother, she could easily ask to be excused from the trial (and should).

    Rusty Pirone vows death to Valerie and her son if she votes "guilty". He sends Tommy Vesey (William Hurt), an ex-cop turned mob drunk, to keep the pressure on her in order to get a mistrial. Tommy starts to fall in love with Valerie and offers her advice and protection as the movie progresses.

    During the trial selection process, Daniel Graham, the prosecution attorney (played by Gabriel Byrne), and the defence attorneys both pick out their respective jurors and try to decide which way each member may vote. Both sides believe that Valery will be the key to the case and will be on their side, which quickly sets the scene for the movie.

    This movie works purely because you don't know the ending or which road is taken from here. To find out more, you had better watch it for yourself...

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Transfer Quality


    I was a little disappointed in the general quality of the video transfer.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Note that this disc is NTSC formatted, so your playback equipment will need to be compatible with NTSC to view this disc.

    Overall, the foreground and people's faces remained clear, but backgrounds suffered, especially if they contained white or cream walls. Other than this, the transfer is sharp. Shadow detail is good, but I would have liked to see more detail revealed in the murky lighting of the courtroom. If you control your ambient light, it is fine, but you will not get the full effect if you watch this DVD during the day with the curtains open. There was some mild low level noise, often accompanied by aliasing.

    The colours throughout the movie were well defined and did not suffer from any noticeable bleeding.

    MPEG artefacts were a problem for this transfer, particularly for scenes with lightly-coloured walls in the background. Some examples of this can be seen at 14:48 and again at 15:50. The main titles, starting at 1:59 and continuing to 2:53 suffered from the Gibb Effect (mosquito noise), as did the end credits which began at around 102:14. Although this effect won't be any cause for concern for movie watchers, it was painful to read and check that I had spelt the actors' names correctly.

    Aliasing was noticed on the walls during camera pans at 15:50 (which also had the aforementioned MPEG artefacts) as well as at 17:48 and 22:14. The attorney's shirt badly aliased at 38:01.

    Film artefacts weren't too bad for a film of this age but did occur most prominently at 16:16 (white artefacts) and then a black artefact was noticed at 41:41 and again at 60:08.

    The subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish and were true to the spoken word, or at least the English track was. I cannot vouch for the other subtitle languages. The font used was larger than you would normally expect and this probably would be of benefit on smaller screens. Fortunately, it did not obstruct the on-screen image. All of the subtitles could be set from either the main menu or "on-the-fly" with your remote during playback.

    This disc is single layered, not dual layered as mentioned on the packaging. The outside cover also says that it is shown in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 when it is actually 1.78:1

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer was generally quite good and did not seem to suffer as much as the video side of the transfer did.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. There was no hiss noted.

    Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.

    The surround channels were used for ambience, music and for special effects. With the effects, I felt that they could have been better placed in the sound space and tended to be directed towards one speaker rather than being well-integrated across the sound stage. For example, when the phone rang at 42:43, the sound was very prominent in the front left speaker, contrary to the on-screen image which had the phone placed closer to the centre. The mix needed more volume from the rear speaker to better place the sound where it should have been, and then moved in time with the camera to the front speakers only.

    The directional effects from the surrounds were good and well placed (excluding the example above). Surround use can be heard with gunfire at 5:24, again at 11:25 and in the restaurant at 70:16, which puts you right in the middle of the action.

    The sound did quieten down somewhat from 91:55 onwards, just enough for me to increase the volume enough to allow a comfortable listening level without having to strain to hear. Although this scene warranted less volume, I felt it was just a bit too soft. The sound doesn't pick up again until 96:37, and boy do the speakers jump out at you then. The dramatic volume increase in sound was matched perfectly with the on-screen sequence and then levels drop back down to the proper baseline for the rest of the movie.

The musical score by Terence Blanchard was a fitting choice for this style of movie. The peaks and troughs of sound together with the way they have been mixed across the 5.1 channels suited the scenes well. The volume levels did not drown out the dialogue at any point during the movie.

    The subwoofer was active during the action sequences, and placed an excellent bottom end on these sequences.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras on this disc are pretty basic and are barely worth mentioning. They include a Theatrical Trailer, Cast Biographies and Trailers of two other Morgan Creek titles.


    The menu is themed around the movie. The main menu features an animated clip from the movie and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio.

    The scene selection showed 6 scenes per page with options along the bottom of the screen to allow you to quickly jump to any point in the movie. Each scene showed actual running footage rather than a still image, which is something I personally like to see.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is the US movie trailer. It is of rather poor quality and suffers from a lot of film artefacts. The worst artefacts were at 1:24. The trailer itself was quite a suspenseful package and would have made me go and see the movie.


    Only the four main characters of the film are shown in this section (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, Armand Assante, Gabriel Byrne and William Hurt). The only information provided for each actor was a complete list of the movies they have been in. This could have been expanded on to give a little background on the actors themselves.

Morgan Creek DVDs

This section contains trailers for two other Morgan Creek DVDs that are available; Diabolique and Silent Fall. I have not seen either title and they both looked interesting (especially Diabolique). Both movies would appear to suit anyone that enjoyed Trial By Jury.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Both the Region 4 and Region 1 versions of this DVD are equally specified.


    Overall, I enjoyed Trial By Jury and found that the surrounds and sound in general was well-used. The background scenes that suffered from MPEG effects were annoying if you wanted to be picky, but would probably be missed by most. The storyline was good, but it ain't no Godfather.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Friday, September 07, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer XV-DV55, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe 72cm. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer XV-DV55
SpeakersPioneer S-DV55ST-K Satellite wall mouted 5-Speaker System; Pioneer S-DV55SW-K Powered Subwoofer

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