John Ray Grisham Jr., better known as John Grisham, is a well-known name in the legal community. Following his second calling as an attorney and politician, Grisham became an international superstar. His debut book, A Time to Kill, was published in 1989 and took him nearly four years to write. With The Firm, Grisham’s first novel, which became a bestselling novel in 1991, he had his first taste of success. John Grisham has since changed the face of legal thrillers with his pure brilliance. The genre of law and legal thrillers captivated readers in a culture enthralled with romance and fantasy. After his novels topped practically every bestseller list, great director Sydney Pollack breathed new life into them.
The success of Pollack’s legal thriller catapulted Grisham into the top tier of 1990s filmmakers. With time, he rose to become the most sought-after author of his generation. Many of John Grisham’s works have been adapted into films and television shows. His novels were transformed into films that were both critically and commercially successful. Grisham’s books and novels were used by several outstanding directors in the 1990s to make masterpieces. With the help of an ensemble cast, Alan Jay Pakula, Robert Altman, and Francis Ford Coppola converted his novels into a successful film effort.
With works spanning from films to television programs, John Grisham has had a huge impact on the entertainment business. Aside authoring criminal thrillers, the author also helmed the sports genre. Grisham is widely regarded as the most important novelist of his generation, having received several prizes and honours. With that said, here is a ranking of the best John Grisham films. Some of these excellent John Grisham films are available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu.
Table Of Content
A Time to Kill (1996)
Joel Schumacher lauded Grisham’s work and writing. A Time to Kill was his second directorial project based on a novel by the author. Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey star in the adaptation of Grisham’s first novel. The film follows Tonya, a young woman who is brutally raped by two bigots, and her father’s legal battle against them. He takes matters into his own hands when justice is not served. One of the best courtroom dramas ever made, with an emotional storyline. The actors and director both gave outstanding performances. The film’s plot and performances were complimented by Roger Ebert. The apology of the death penalty and the right to self-defense sparked a debate about the film. It was released in France under the title ‘A Right to Kill?’ Despite this, the film was a box office and critical triumph.
Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
Chris Columbus wrote and produced Christmas with Cranks, a Christmas comedy film based on John Grisham’s New York Times best-selling novel Skipping Christmas. A couple decides not to celebrate Christmas without their daughter in this film. As a result, the pair is shunned by their neighbors and treated as outcasts. Despite receiving mainly negative reviews, the picture was a moderate box-office success.
‘Mickey’ is the only film on the list that isn’t based on a novel by John Grisham, but rather on a screenplay he wrote. It’s a sports drama about a widower father who files a false lawsuit for being bankrupt while his wife is ill. The IRS department revealed the truth, forcing him to leave the community and his son’s identity behind. His son shines at baseball and becomes popular in a new location. This puts them on the radar of the IRS, resulting in his team’s disqualification and his father’s incarceration. In comparison to the other films on the list, Mickey is a lesser-known film. Although movie did not perform well at the box office, critics welcomed Grisham’s departure from his normal genre.
Runaway Jury (2003)
Director Gary Fleder brought together two cinematic giants: Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman, based on Grisham’s seventh novel. Although there are some changes between the novel and the film, both portray a cat and mouse chase. When a lady brings a lawsuit against the gun makers, a mass murder-suicide case is revoked. Case is thrust into the spotlight, bringing the legends together. Wendall Rohr is up against Rankin Finch (Gene Hackman), a ruthless and clever jury consultant (Dustin Hoffman). This seemingly cat and mouse chase is suddenly controlled, and the entire scenario is altered. The fact that Jury is for sale agitates both characters’ thoughts. It was “clever” and “suspenseful,” according to John Grisham, but he was disappointed by the little collection. We witnessed the ‘Clash of Titans,’ in which both veterans wowed the audience with their outstanding performances. Gene Hackman made his second appearance on the list. The first is called ‘The Firm.’
The Chamber (1996)
Adam Hall (Chris O’Donell) returns to his hometown in order to challenge his grandfather’s death sentence. Sam Cayhall (Gene Hackman) was convicted 30 years ago of murdering two Jewish toddlers. Adam is in a pickle because his grandfather was the one who drove his father to suicide. The Chamber (novel) was unfinished when the author sold the rights, which Grisham believes contributed to the film’s failure. Gene Hackman, who made the list for the third time, stole the event with his raunchy performance. The Chamber was a ‘box-office failure,’ and it also failed to impress critics. Unlike the novel, which was well-received when it was released in 1994. Critics claimed that Director James Foley failed to successfully adapt the novel’s aesthetic writing into a film.
The Client (1994)
This courtroom thriller was directed by Joel Schumacher and is based on John Grisham’s fourth novel, ‘The Client.’ The picture was a big hit because to Susan Saanson and Tommy Lee Jones in the lead roles, as well as a gripping storyline. Two brothers witness the suicide of a mafia lawyer, and one of them has a major mental illness as a result. The mob and authorities are worried that the lawyer has told those kids their secrets. An assassin is following the youngsters, putting them in severe danger. They subsequently seek the assistance of Regina “Reggie” Love (Susan Saanson), an alcoholic advocate. The pace, thrills, and terrifying atmosphere were highly lauded by critics and audience alike. Susan Saanson’s performance was praised so highly that she was nominated for “Best Actress in a Leading Role.” In the same year, she was awarded the Golden Globe.
The Firm (1993)
The Firm, the best-selling novel of 1991, was John Grisham’s first step to prominence. This courtroom thriller was turned into a feature film by Sydney Pollack, starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. Mitch McDeere, an ambitious law student, is drawn to a law firm by the money and perks on offer. When harsh truths about the firm are disclosed, he eventually finds himself in a hostile situation. The Firm, regarded as one of the best thrillers, proved to be a profitable venture. Roger Ebert scored the film three out of four stars, praising Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman’s performances. Later on television, the influence of John Grisham’s bestseller may be seen with a series of the same name that aired on NBC. For the series, Grisham became a producer.
The Gingerbread Man (1998)
The Gingerbread Man demonstrates Grisham’s importance as a writer. For filmmakers, a discarded draft by him was deemed important enough. Robert Altman, one of the most renowned auteurs of all time, directed the film. The Gingerbread Man is a gripping criminal drama about a dishonest lawyer named Rick Magruder (Kenneth Barnagh) who files a lawsuit against Dixon Doss (Robert Duvall). He does it while Dixon’s daughter is present, and he is committed to a mental institution. After a while, he manages to break free and threatens Rick and his family. Truths are revealed as the story progresses. For his direction and changes to the script, Robert Altman won critical acclaim. Kenneth Barnagh’s performance alongside Robert Duvall was praised. Despite this, the film’s post-production and release were a disaster. It is regarded as one of Robert Altman’s best thrillers. After their review of the film, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel gave it their renowned “two thumbs up.”
The Pelican Brief (1993)
Pelican Brief was Alan J. Pakula’s final film as a producer and writer, and it starred Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. In the same year as ‘The Client,’ this film was released. The Pelican Brief, John Grisham’s third novel, was published in 1992. The assassination of two supreme court justices is the subject of this political thriller. Darby Shaw (Julia Roberts), a law student, correctly debriefs the judges’ murder mystery, but later suffers threats to her safety. Later, a journalist named Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington) contacts Darby about the assassinations in order to uncover the riddle. As the story progresses, huge mysteries are uncovered. The film received a positive review from Roger Ebert, who described it as a fast-paced and scary thriller. According to the author, it was a justified adaptation of his well-received work. The film was a box-office hit, making John Grisham one of the most well-known authors in Hollywood.
The Rainmaker (1997)
Francis Ford Coppola was the one who took John Grisham’s essay this time. Grisham’s sixth courtroom thriller, The Rainmaker, was adapted with a stellar ensemble that included Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, and Danny DeVito. Based on Grisham’s novel, it can be called one of the “Best Directed Movies.” The story revolves around Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon), a young man from a poor family. He completes his law education, but his career is doomed from the start. For money and job, he eventually becomes a “ambulance chaser.” Rudy understands later, following a series of incidents and cases, that his clients are more than just wealthy; they are victims. Matt Damon and Danny DeVito’s performances were hailed by critics, and Jon Voight received multiple nods for his supporting part. ‘The Rainmaker,’ a moderate commercial success, received critical acclaim. Coppola’s direction and screenwriting wowed audiences. The picture unquestionably deserves to be at the top of the list.
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