I managed to collect the book and DVD recently–though I have watched it twice already. Once, during class when our professor wanted us to analyze some relevant elements relating to the law. Twice, when I rented it home to analyze it further on my own, getting a clearer picture. Then the third time recently with my mom–just to refresh my mind so I could compare it with the book as I read.
What I found with this book and the movie–though different at various points (which was unavoidable) was very fascinating. The details might be changed for the length of the movie and other factors, but the tone still stayed brilliant to the author’s intention. Or at least I thought it did. I still feel the same while reading–or watching. I think this has been one of the most successful adaptations out there. There were a lot of inspirational messages spread across the story and I felt that it was very good how they’ve managed to keep it in the movie with those lines being said at different events. Those phrases said by Rudy during the voice-over were really powerful and essential to understand and live through his vision of how lawyers were (and the legal system itself was) and how human nature in general was.
While reading, I actually made a list of comparison between both, including some details, so here they are:
- Both was narrated by Rudy Baylor with its witty tone intact
- Rudy’s father was really working for a ladder company
- Rudy accepted the cases of Miss Birdie and the Blacks at around the same time–like it was mentioned in the movie BUT at a different setting than the movie
- Some of the most powerful narratives or messages were preserved and used in the voice-over to convey Rudy’s feelings toward the events happening
- The movie placed a stronger emphasis on how Rudy was fascinated with the law and the lawyers who made a difference in the books that he read while the book focused more on how it would ticked his father off majorly with him entering the law profession.
- Rudy was much more bitter and sarcastic in the book than the movie because he’d gone through a lot of troubles and hardships than the movie let on (though it was because of time constraint that the movie needed to include only relevant parts to the cases).
- Rudy did not mind cutting corners and his moral was a bit on the line in the book than the movie (though it was understandable since he’d been through a lot more like mentioned before).
- Rudy actually got a job at the Johnathan Lake (the legendary lawyer)’s law firm on his second try finally after searching for so long and turned down so many times in the book versus the movie beginning with how he worked for Bruiser Stone (though Bruiser was mentioned as Prince’s best friend and was also a lawyer in the book). However, he later found out that Barry X Lancaster (the guy who supposedly signed him) lied and tricked him to get to the case of the Blacks. That was also the reason why the paperwork of his proof of employment was never drafted or seen. What was even worse was the Johnathan Lake law firm was burned to the ground after Rudy went and tried to confront Barry so he became involved and was named the prime suspect. Eventually and ironically, Rudy had to approach Prince to help him sort out the mess with the accusation thus leading to them seeking advice and help from Bruiser. Rudy finally worked for Bruiser. (So it was not stretched much with the movie but it made sense to take a lot of unnecessary details out of the movie.)
- Booker, Rudy’s law school friend, was seen with him at various times when he was studying for the bar exam in the book, but was not in the movie, probably because everything regarding the bar exam or law school related was covered through the voice-over in the movie.
- Rudy actually met Tyrone Kipler through Booker when they were studying for their bar exam and Booker had scheduled a lecture with Kipler ahead of time hence the meeting.
- In the movie, Rudy agreed to Deck’s suggestion of becoming partners right away when they were discussing about Bruiser’s case at Trudy’s BUT in the book, Rudy wanted to have some time to think it over, considering what type of person Deck was (not afraid of cutting corners, etc).
- In the book, after Deck agreed to let Rudy think it over, Deck asked Rudy how many files did Rudy have on hand, Rudy answered ‘three’ instead of ‘two’ like in the movie since some stuffs were edited out for the purpose of the length. The rest was the same with Deck telling Rudy to take the files home, etc.
- Leo F. Drummond was seen supporting Rudy and even vouched for him, allowing him to be sworn in, becoming an official lawyer in the movie BUT opposed to the idea of him taking the case in the book. The movie was probably playing on the turn of events and the irony of the situation that Drummond was so full of himself so he did not care about little step and that he probably thought it was easier to stump a new lawyer than someone experienced as Brusier Stone (or any others in the profession).
- In the movie, Deck told Rudy at one go with the early phone call regarding Harvey Hale’s death and his replacement. However, in the book, Rudy had a talk with Booker and was still waiting for the replacement to be announced like the others in town. Tyrone Kipler was a highly likely candidate and was appointed like expected by the majority. Booker also had a hand in influencing and notifying Kipler regarding the Blacks vs. Great Benefit case, therefore, updating Kipler on what was going on to get his support. Kipler indeed was seen more supportive toward Rudy in the book because there was more time to be versus the quick encouraging words and supportive expressions exchanged in the movie.
- In the movie, the scene where Rudy drove Donny Ray to see the softball game was emphasized as his trespassing the line between lawyer and client with the voice-over, BUT there were more scenes of their interaction in the book–like the day spent at Miss Birdie’s house when Rudy finally got around to doing yard work for Miss Birdie while Miss Birdie kept Donny Ray company. In the book, Rudy also made it a habit to call Donny Ray each day at around 5 to talk with him and check in on him.
- In the book, Drummond and his team were being humiliated by Kipler more than it was in the movie; possibly because the movie just wanted to show the essence of it but not get too repetitive with the actions or words spoken. The humiliation continued throughout to emphasize how Kipler was supporting Rudy and how he (Kipler) was strongly against insurance companies, especially that of Great Benefit.
- In the book, Drummond claimed that he was busy on Thursday with a trial hence the move to Saturday for the deposition of Donny Ray. However, in the book, another lawyer–T. Pierce Morehouse, claimed that he was out of town that Saturday for his sister’s wedding. In the movie, it was Drummond being out of town on Thursday and it was denied so they proceeded with a Thursday anyway.
- In the book, Donny Ray’s deposition was supposed to take place at Rudy’s law office, BUT Dot–Donny Ray’s mother–called Rudy on Friday to tell him that Donny Ray was not able to get out of bed hence the move to the Blacks’ house. At first, Drummond was opposed to it because it was in his plan to move the deposition as far out as it could go (possibly after Donny Ray’s funeral aka no chance for the deposition at all), but Rudy called Kipler so Kipler got on Drummond’s case and forced Drummond to oblige. As a bonus, Kipler accompanied them to the deposition to prevent Drummond from pulling a stunt like starting some senseless fight and then walking off just to delay the deposition further.
- On the day of the deposition, only three lawyers (including Drummond) from the defense team arrived in the book versus the whole team like in the movie.
- Buddy–Donny Ray’s father–was seen walking out of the house and entering his car at the beginning of the deposition in the movie but it was in the middle of it that it happened in the book.
- Deck was seen passing out business cards and talking to the neighbors after he adjusted the camera for video-tapping a little before the deposition started in the movie but it was actually after the deposition in the book when Rudy and Dot were helping Donny Ray back into the house.
- When Rudy got home after the deposition, he found a woman trespassing but it was because Miss Birdie gave her the key. In the movie, Miss Birdie was actually talking and interacting with her son BUT in the book, Miss Birdie was just watching TV and ignoring them all while Rudy was battling it out with the other two. Rudy left later without any nice words–unlike in the movie with how Rudy suggested that the couple treat Miss Birdie well.
- The conversation between Rudy and Miss Birdie’s sons regarding how low the rent was for Rudy’s place and how they were concerned about her being taken advantage of was actually when Delbert managed to recruit his brother, Randolph, to come and visit their mother as well. They had caught wind of the money so they were pretending to be good sons so they could get money from Miss Birdie. (Just like in the movie at this point, except for Rudy’s behavior toward them–which was still as hostile as ever, not giving in to their ways at all nor attempting to be friendly.) Delbert and Randolph went even further by persuading their mother to change the will again to leaving everything to her kids and grand-kids, which Roger Rice (the lawyer the Birdsong brothers managed to get) called Rudy to consult. Their little show was even taken up another notch with having the grand-kids coming to keep Miss Birdie company and happy, etc.
- In the book, they went into details with Dot’s deposition also, but did not include Buddy since he was not in the right state of mind to be deposited. However, the movie just let us had some idea of the deposition from Donny Ray’s.
- In the book, after about two weeks and over, the Birdsong brothers managed to convince their mother to move to Florida with them thus Rudy ending up taking care of the place for them.
- In the movie, it showed that Drummond was at the deposition in Cleveland BUT he was not there in the book. Only four defense lawyers were there.
- Rudy went to see Kelly at the movie theater before going to the deposition in Cleveland in the movie BUT it actually happened sometime before Thanksgiving.
- In the book, Rudy received a call one night from Miss Birdie regarding how her children, daughters-in-law, and grand-kids had turned mean overnight. They had taken her to the doctors and when they found out that she was in perfect health, they had returned to their normal behaviors, restricting her rights, etc.
- In the movie, Rudy came to the Blacks’ house to see the neighbors gathered at the house, comforting Dot, etc. Rudy went outside and gave Buddy a picture frame with a picture of Donny Ray inside and said his words of condolences to the old man before taking a seat at the bench. Buddy was seen hugging Rudy a few minutes later and crying. However, Buddy was not around during that time in the book. Rudy was seen talking to Donny Ray’s twin, Ron.
- When Deck got Butch to look for bugs in their office, they thought it was the feds bugging their office so they were concerned regarding that AND did not think about Drummond and his men having a hand in it at first like in the movie. Deck later sneaked his phone out to Butch and they took it to Butch’s friend to inspect, verifying that it was not something the feds use.
- The scheme with Rudy and Deck with the phone calls (aka getting back at Drummond for bugging their office), they said the figures as 50-75 thousands in the movie, BUT it was 150 to 160 in the book. Then when Drummond called them to negotiate, he was going for 175 thousands.
- In the book, Rudy went on a road trip for Christmas and also visited his law school professor, Max Leuberg, for advices. Max lectured about the insurance and its policy, even providing Rudy with the latest from Great Benefit. Max worked with Rudy on the strategies and prepared Rudy for the upcoming trial. He was the one who suggested in showing the picture of Donny Ray at the trial to the jury. Rudy also made several trips around the country to investigate further into the other lawsuits Great Benefit had to face, including meeting up with Cooper Jackson in North Carolina; and Jackson explained to him more of how Great Benefit operated (aka their structures). Jackson also let Rudy review the documents, manuals, and references on hand. It was also how Rudy discovered about the Section U. (Those manuals were eventually used in the trial AND NOT acquired through Jackie Lemancyzk like the movie projected.)
- Before the jury selection, Rudy and Deck got another scheme going. In the movie, Deck made Butch talked into the phone to convince Drummond that they were making contact with the jurors. However, in the book, they had conversation about contacting those people and who they got on their sides and who opposed, etc. before letting Butch played out the scene after 15 minutes from their previous call.
- In the book, the first day of the trial was more successful than the movie let on with Dot and the doctor on the stand since Rudy was more prepared.
- Rudy received a call regarding Kelly and how she was beaten again after the defense team finished on Thursday, which was before their closing statements on Friday in the book instead of still in the middle of the trial like in the movie.
- The clip of Donny Ray was presented during the closing statements in the movie, BUT it was actually used as the last witness of the plaintiff. Rudy used figures and a story about punishment as an example for the closing statements instead in the book.
- Rudy took Kelly to a secret shelter for abused women in the book instead of to Miss Birdie like in the movie (since Miss Birdie was not around at that point in the book because she was still with her kids and grand-kids in Florida).
- In the movie, Drummond seemed to know some of the things that his client was withholding OR was in on the scheme of withholding information, BUT Drummond appeared to be stunned by what was happening as well in the book–even appeared mad at his client for withholding information and putting him at a disadvantage over Rudy. Drummond only seemed to be quite arrogant and full of himself because of the amount of experiences he had in the courtroom versus his scheming and cunning nature in the movie.
- In the book, after Bruiser Stone fled, they never heard from him again to receive advice from him during the trial (except for that one time during the preparations that Deck talked to him about some amount of money still lying around), SO the help actually came from Rudy’s professors, friends, and the other lawyers who were also investigating Great Benefit from different states. Deck and Butch did help Rudy with some preparations and searching of information BUT did not play such big roles in the book as was portrayed in the movie.
- The case was actually in ’93 instead of moved up several years like in the movie (for purpose of the current year at that time).
- Buddy was NOT seen in the courtroom at all during the trial since he was not in the right of mind to stay still or last through the entire trial. Dot was the only person there with Rudy and Deck.
- Deck DID NOT stand in and asked questions for Rudy that one time like in the movie portrayed since Rudy was more prepared in the book and was never late for the trial regardless of circumstances. AND not to mention that they moved the Kelly issue up and around so he was late in the movie BUT that was taken care of before the closing statements (as stated before), during the time they were waiting for the verdict, and after the trial itself.
- In the movie, Rudy was seen watching TV with Kelly and Miss Birdie, listening to the reporter talking about the verdict all over again BUT in the book, Rudy was watching with Kelly at the shelter Kelly was still staying at.
- Max Leuberg and some other lawyers were the one who informed Rudy of lawsuits filing in different states after the Black trial in the book AND him (Rudy) learning it from the news.
- In the book, after the trial, Great Benefit claimed that Drummond had not informed them about Rudy’s words of settling for 1.2 million thus leading to the inevitable and the trial and then the verdict of having to pay punitive damages 50.2 million. Great Benefit claimed they were misled and fired Drummond and his team of lawyers, trying to negotiate with Rudy and Kipler. Great Benefit was also filing a malpractice against Drummond and his law firm for the action that they had cost the insurance company.
- The scene where Rudy almost killed Cliff (Kelly’s husband) and Kelly eventually killing Cliff in self defense happened after the trial and other things were taken care of in the book. It got moved probably for time and also to allow the Black trial and Rudy’s reflections about lawyers (and the law in general) be the focus and being the last point of the story. The whole clean up of the mess (aka bailing Kelly out, etc) was much longer and more detailed with Deck, Butch, and Booker helping to get it move along–BUT was cut short in the movie for time.
- Deck was the one who took the call regarding the news of Great Benefit filing for bankruptcy AND not Rudy, BUT from Peter Corsa (Jackie Lemancyzk’s lawyer) and NOT Drummond like in the movie because Drummond was already fired and being sued (by Great Benefit) by then in the book. Though it was the same that everyone was losing in the case like it was mentioned in the movie. PinnComm (the company that owned Great Benefit and several others) were responsible for the effects because it was being investigated, etc. Drummond eventually called Rudy regarding the whole mess with Great Benefit and talked to Rudy about the whole matter. (And Drummond and his law firm dodged from a malpractice action after all since Great Benefit had other things to take care of.)
- In the book, after Rudy got off the phone with Drummond, he received a call from Roger Rice (Miss Birdie’s lawyer) and was told about the whole mess with Miss Birdie and her sons. She was on her way back to Memphis. Delbert and Randolph finally found out the truth regarding the fortune that Miss Birdie supposedly got and returned to Florida (after a quick trip to Memphis to confront Roger Rice).
- Rudy and Deck actually said their last good-byes at Miss Birdie’s house in the book instead of at their office like in the movie since Cliff’s family had managed to take a shot at them at the office SO they did not want to return. They had the talk about some settlements regarding their business before parting. Deck also mentioned about how Bruiser wanted him (Deck) to haul some money to Miami and Deck would get a 10% off the money. Rudy warned Deck against it but Deck looked like he had it planned with Bruiser for a long time SO they just said their good-byes and part ways. The money part was actually mentioned when they were shooting the good-bye scene at the office BUT was cut out and replaced with the voice-over of some phrases Rudy mentioned about lawyers to emphasize the reason why he wanted to leave the profession in general. In the movie, the strong emphasis was on his profession as a lawyer more than leaving because he wanted to protect Kelly.
- Rudy never got a chance to say good-bye to Miss Birdie in the book BUT just left her a letter before leaving. Therefore, her conversation with him and how she was leaving some of the money to him was irrelevant.
After reading the book, I thought they did a good job with casting each role and character. There were some changes, such as that of Bruiser, but it was all right since NOT everything had to be down to the tip. As long as they preserved the message of the story, it was forgivable.
I totally recommend both the book and the movie for those who love a witty story with the element of law weaved in with many other lessons.