Suspect (1987)

Suspect (1987)

Taglines: No matter the cost, No matter the danger. They will find the truth.

A judge commits suicide, and his secretary is found murdered. A homeless deaf-mute man, Carl Anderson is arrested for her murder. Public defender Kathleen is assigned by the court as his lawyer. She sets to find the real killer, and gets help from the congressional advisor, Eddie Sanger who is called to be on the jury panel. Together they discover a dangerous circle of corruption in high places.

Suspect is a 1987 American mystery/courtroom drama film starring Cher, Dennis Quaid and Liam Neeson. Other notable cast members include John Mahoney, Joe Mantegna, Philip Bosco, E. Katherine Kerr, Fred Melamed, Lisbeth Bartlett, Paul D’Amato and Rosemary Knowero. The film was directed by Peter Yates.

About the Story

Around Christmas, a United States Supreme Court Justice commits suicide, for which no explanation or context is given. We only see the Justice making a tape recording and then shooting himself. Shortly after the suicide, the body of Elizabeth Quinn, a file clerk at the Justice Department, is found floating in the Potomac River, and Carl Wayne Anderson (Liam Neeson), a homeless, deaf-mute Vietnam veteran, is arrested for the crime, based almost entirely on the fact that he was seen sleeping in Quinn’s car the night of her murder. Kathleen Riley (Cher) is the beleaguered D.C. public defender assigned to represent Anderson.

Suspect (1987)

The car was abandoned in a desolate K Street parking lot. Anderson, it is eventually revealed, found the car unlocked and was just looking for a warm place to sleep since it was the dead of winter. But since he was homeless, had no alibi, and was also found in possession of Quinn’s wallet, he was arrested for her murder.

Riley finds it difficult to communicate with Anderson, a deaf-mute. Over time, she begins to penetrate his hard exterior and he tries to cooperate with her efforts to mount a defense for him. An agribusiness lobbyist who normally works on Capitol Hill, Eddie Sanger (Dennis Quaid), is approved as a member of the jury by Riley despite his attempt to be excused. Sanger begins investigating the details of the murder himself, eventually teaming up with Riley beyond the observation of the trial’s suspicious judge.

Sanger also keeps busy in his work as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill, including his efforts to win passage of a bill by seducing a Congresswoman. As the investigation by Riley, with unethical assistance from Sanger, intensifies, they begin focusing on Deputy Attorney General Paul Gray (Philip Bosco).

Figuring that a key found on the victim’s body has something to do with the Justice Department (where Quinn worked), Riley and Sanger break into the file department at the Justice Department late one night and try to find what the key unlocks. They find a file cabinet, which contained trial transcripts from federal cases from 1968 that Quinn was in the process of transcribing.

Suspect Movie Poster (1987)

Suspect (1987)

Directed by: Peter Yates
Starring: Cher, Dennis Quaid, Liam Neeson, John Mahoney, Joe Mantegna, Philip Bosco, E. Katherine Kerr, Fred Melamed, Lisbeth Bartlett, Paul D’Amato, Rosemary Knower
Screenplay by: Eric Roth
Production Design by: Stuart Wurtzel
Cinematography by: Billy Williams
Film Editing by: Ray Lovejoy
Costume Design by: Rita Ryack
Art Direction by: Tony Hall, Steven P. Sardanis
Music by: Michael Kamen
Distributed by: TriStar Pictures
Release Date: October 23, 1987