Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (1992) 720p

Movie Poster
Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (1992) - Movie Poster
Frame Rate:
29.97 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
120 min
IMDB Rating:
6.5 / 10 
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Directors: Delbert Mann [Director] ,

Movie Description:
In the second dramatic case for lawyer Harmon Cobb, he defends an incarcerated woman who is refused release from a mental institution.


  • Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (1992) - Movie Scene 1
  • Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (1992) - Movie Scene 2
  • Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (1992) - Movie Scene 1

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As Outstanding As they Get: Incident in Baltimore ****

A phenomenal movie with superb performances by Walter Matthau and Harry Morgan. Both would reprise their types of roles 2 years later in "An Incident in A Small Town."

While the latter film was also quite good, this one is even better because it exposes conditions in a mental institution in 1947's Baltimore. At the beginning, some of the harrowing scenes reminded me of Olivia De Havilland's memorable performance in 1948's "The Snake Pit."

Matthau, as a widowed attorney who has moved to Baltimore with his widowed daughter-in-law and granddaughter, takes on the case of a woman who committed herself to an asylum for depression and then was held there totally against her will. You will see plenty of corruption, abuse and other things that we unfortunately read in the papers about such institutions. You'll also see how this was a profitable business and the definite need for state intervention.

As if the picture isn't good enough, the sidebar story is where Susan Blakely, the daughter-in-law finds happiness with the 4-F math teacher in the town. This angers Matthau and he insults her in a memorable scene. The picture depicts the adjustment of finding a new life for the war widowed after World War 11.

The film is truly remarkable from beginning to end.

Family-approved film satisfactorily shows battle to give rights to the mentally ill


1992 Made for TV starring Walter Matthau and Harry Morgan, a "family approved" story about improving legal protections for those improperly incarcerated in state mental institutions circa 1947. Although Baltimore was chosen, the state of Maryland should not be singled out. Mistreatment of the mentally ill was, and is, a nation wide problem.

As recently as yesterday [11/02/2002], the news services reported on the failure of major federal and state programs to deliver on promised multi-agency initiatives to help the mentally ill WITH NO ADDITIONAL EXPENDITURE LEVELS. Where there is ignorance and fear, there is apathy and inertia.

The film's Primary Issue is sovereign immunity: the ability to sue the state AT ALL on behalf of inmates.

Related issues are covered: overuse of insulin therapy. electro-shock therapy, budget-limited feeding (49 cents a day), billing for therapy and other treatments not provided, "ice-pick lobotomy, and on an on, in a system with no checks and balances. etc.

A fascinating and typical story told in a film style without the horrific raw edges that would make the film impossible to show to younger children or citizens' groups.

I say "family approved" because if you surf the internet you can find this film pointed out at various sites which list films that treat issues for specialized populations. The following is illustrative of the TYPE of group that honors AGAINST HER WILL by placing it on their list. I have changed a word here and there to protect their privacy.

QUOTE This website presents a list of 3000 feature films which involve in one way or human disabilities. It is directed towards teachers, students and anyone who has an interest in how disability is represented in films. UNQUOTE

The pacing and intensity of the film is along the lines of the TV series MURDER SHE WROTE or MONK, but with most (not all) of the humor extracted. Issues are introduced gradually and fully elaborated. Gradations of issue, and new points, are "acted out" by having a character embody or manifest the plot development so that the viewer does not have to bring a large vocabulary of prior knowledge. (However, ice-pick lobotomy is left to the advanced viewer who either knows, or doesn't know. No illustrations provide.)

This film is not BIRDY (1984)or DON'T SAY A WORD (2001) or even ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEXT (1975).

I might especially recommend this for parents of children who--and this happens--were led to tease, bait, bully, or disrespect the mentally ill either in specific (a classmate) or in general ("those wackos").

While it won't build compassion from scratch, the film may build back compassion that was there, and may educate. It's also a great film for the budding attorney in your brood.

Besides which, watching Harry Morgan and Walter Matthau circle each other, and then bond, in typical "old Disney" style, can only be fun for all age groups.

Six out of 10 for basic made-for-TV film accomplishment plus a bonus point for casting equals 7 out of 10.

On TV Movies Top Ten List

Delbert Mann is one of the greatest directors of our time, an Oscar-winning director for "Marty," and a pioneer of great television. In this film his skills are as good as they get. His work with Walter Matthau demonstrates how he understands Matthau's intelligence and depth. Mann's choice of Susan Blakely is notable because she's got the brilliance as an actress to be able to hold her own with someone like Matthau. This is an example of what TV Movies should be and can be if the talent is both on the page and on the screen.
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