Monday, April 5, 2021

Answer the question, doctor

 I found what might be the oldest ever appearance of the stock audio clip that gives this blog its name watching a modern classic, Michael Mann's 1999 drama/thriller classic The Insider.

Back when Russell Crowe was newly hot, Al Pacino still had black hair and before Mann had squandered some of his reputation on the unforgivably silly Blackhat, he made a cracking movie based on his and Eric Roth's script, telling the story of the cigarette company executive who blew the whistle on the top brass of cigarette manufacturers knowing how addictive smoking was, paving the way for a lawsuit that eventually ballooned to be worth over $200bn.

In the story, fired cigarette scientist and exec Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe) agrees to give a deposition relating to the state of Mississippi's class action existing lawsuit against the tobacco ocmpanies. The thing is, having signed a confidentiality agreement, Wigand can't legally talk to the media.

But if compelled to testify as part of a class action lawsuit – similar to being summoned to appear in court as a witness in a criminal trial – they can get around his agreement with his former employer because his deposition becomes merely public record.

It's a risky move by the legal team led by state attorney general Mike Moore (playing himself) and the law firm of Richard Scruggs because the cigarette manufacturers issue a gag order anyway, one that might land Wigand facing charges if his side's careful legal manoeuvring backfires. But it's a buttock-clenchingly good scene as lawyer Rob Motley (Bruce McGill) goes postal on the cigarette companies' defense after they continue to interrupt as Wigand answers questions.

Anyway, after it's over and Wigand, Scruggs and the rest of the team breathe a sigh of relief as they settle into their police escort to be taken back to their offices, a familiar voice rings out, declaring long-forgotten neighbourhood zones clear.