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Everything I need to know about the U.S. Supreme Court, I learned from 1981's 'First Monday in October'



first_monday.jpgSomething happen at the U.S. Supreme Court today? I was too busy debating the merits of Highlander remake to notice. It doesn't matter anyway. Truth be told, I somehow managed to never take a U.S. Civics and Government course in my life. 

Oh, unless you count that class when I was a senior in high school and spend the whole hour each day drawing what my stage would look like if I were in a punk rock band. That might have been civics.

Anyhow, my education was already fully formed, having already seen 1981's First Monday in October about a billion times on HBO in those days. (It might have been the only HBO movie I intentionally watched that didn't have nudity in it. Oh, wait, there's that scene when they're screening pornography, so my streak is intact.) 

In any case, I'm pretty sure that Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh provided a strong understanding of our legal system, which I continue to rely on today. That's because...


  • President Reagan announced his appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor to become the first woman on the Supreme Court in July 1981, forcing Paramount to rush the film into theaters before its planned 1982 release so that they could capitalize on the publicity.
  • The character played by Matthau (Justice Dan Snow) is based on the actual Justice William O. Douglas, who also believed so nearly absolutely in the First Amendment that he (like Matthau) did not attend screenings of porn flicks.
  • The movie is actually based on a stage play, which starred Henry Fonda and Jane Alexander.
  • The 'First Monday in October' title of the film, of course, refers to the real start of the SEC football season. Or maybe it's when the court begins its fall session. Again, you should really see those stage drawings of mine from civics class.
  • The film's tagline was, "There are only eight of them against all of her." Coincidentally, that was also the tagline of the fictional movie the justices have to screen, The Naked Nymphomaniac.

Source: And possibly my imagination on those last two items.

[Last modified: Thursday, June 28, 2012 4:26pm]


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