The Accused (1988 film)

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The Accused
Accused ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jonathan Kaplan
Produced by Stanley R. Jaffe
Sherry Lansing
Written by Tom Topor
Starring <templatestyles src="Plainlist/styles.css"/>
Music by Brad Fiedel
Cinematography Ralf D. Bode
Edited by O. Nicholas Brown
Gerard B. Greenberg
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
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  • October 14, 1988 (1988-10-14)
Running time
111 minutes
Country Canada
United States
Language English
Budget $6 million
Box office $32,078,318 (USA)

The Accused is a 1988 American drama film starring Kelly McGillis and Jodie Foster, directed by Jonathan Kaplan and written by Tom Topor.

Loosely based on the real-life gang rape of Cheryl Araujo that occurred at Big Dan's Bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on March 6, 1983, this film was one of the first Hollywood films to deal with rape in a direct manner, and led to other films (including TV films and shows) on the subject.[citation needed]

Jodie Foster, for her portrayal as Sarah Tobias, earned the Academy Award for Best Actress, the film's sole nomination. The Accused also became the first film to win the Best Actress Academy Award without being nominated in any other category since The Three Faces of Eve in 1957, when Joanne Woodward won Best Actress, the film's sole nomination and has since been repeated by Kathy Bates for Misery, Jessica Lange for Blue Sky, Charlize Theron for Monster, and Julianne Moore for Still Alice. Although the film is set in Washington, filming took place in Vancouver, Canada.


Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. One night at a bar, a working-class woman, Sarah Tobias (Foster), is gang raped by several drunk bar patrons, while drunken onlookers cheer them on. The assistant district attorney, Kathryn Murphy (McGillis), who is assigned to the rape case wants to drop the case. After a heated argument, she is admonished by her superior to enter a plea bargain with the rapists requiring some jail time. Sarah is enraged by the deal, mostly because she did not get to tell her story in court.

When Sarah is hospitalized after ramming her car into a pickup truck, whose driver (one of the witnesses who had encouraged the rapists) crudely propositions her, Kathryn decides to prosecute the men who cheered the rape for criminal solicitation. Sarah's friend Sally (Ann Hearn), a waitress at the bar where the rape took place, picks three men out of a line-up, and they get three different attorneys for the ensuing trial. Sarah testifies that she was raped, while college student Kenneth Joyce (Bernie Coulson), a friend of one of the rapists, testifies to watching the rape prior to making a 911 call. After Kathryn's closing statement and a single summation from the three defense lawyers, the jury deliberates for a long time, asking several times for Ken's testimony to be reread to them.

In the end, they find the three men guilty. As the trial provides testimony that they raped Sarah, the three men serving prison time for reckless endangerment are now unlikely to be granted early parole.



Kelly McGillis survived being attacked, earlier in her real life. In 1982, she was assaulted, robbed, and raped in her home by Leroy Johnson, a Sex offender (recently escaped from juvenile jail), and an accomplice.[1] Johnson, because of his age, served only three-plus years for the rape of McGillis. There was insufficient evidence to charge his adult accomplice. This experience encouraged the actress to pursue the role of A.D.A. Murphy in the film. McGillis was initially supposed to play the role of Sarah Tobias (the assault victim in the film) but declined, citing the events of 1982.[2] Johnson, who later served time for threatening to kill Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, would eventually draw a 50-year sentence for two additional rapes, with a release date of March 2048.



The film grossed a total of $32,078,318.[3] The film was a critical success, garnering a 95% fresh rating in review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.[4] Of the two criminal prosecutions in the film, Roger Ebert finds that the lesson of the trial "may be the most important message this movie has to offer...that verbal sexual harassment, whether crudely in a saloon back room or subtly in an everyday situation, is a form of violence - one that leaves no visible marks but can make its victims feel unable to move freely and casually in society. It is a form of imprisonment."[5]

Marjorie Heins, in the 1998 book The V-Chip Debate: Content Filtering from Television to the Internet, stated that educators worried that the film would "receive V ratings and be subject to at least a presumption against curricular use in many public schools."[6]

The film was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.[7]

See also


  1. Maull, Samuel (June 13, 2006). "Sex Offender Apologizes for McGillis Rape". CBS News.
  2. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  3. "The Accused (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  4. "The Accused (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  5. Roger Ebert (October 14, 1988). "The Accused". Chicago Sun-Times
  6. Marjorie Heins, "Three Questions About Television Ratings" The V-Chip Debate: Content Filtering from Television to the Internet, ed. Monroe E. Price. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers (1998): 54
  7. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.

External links