Coming Soon to a Footnote Near You: The Great Movie Title Opinion (Kozinski)

movie title judicial opinion kozinski

Siskel and Kozinski?

Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, is well-known for his sparkling judicial prose, but his most classic opinion–U.S. v. Syufy Enterprises–was written more than twenty years ago.

In Syufy, the federal government sued Las Vegas movie-chain owner Syufy for antitrust violations. In affirming the trial court’s dismissal of the antitrust charges, rumor had it that Judge Kozinski wove more than 200 movie titles into the text of his fourteen-page opinion.

But did it really happen? Was it urban myth? Bourbon myth?

It really happened. Daniel Solzman of the Tarlton Library at the University of Texas law school assembled the entire list of movies Kozinski managed to cram into Syufy as part of its Law in Popular Culture Collection. Here are the movie titles in the order they appeared:

M, Suspect, Giant, Nevada, Illegal, Monkey Business, Platoon, David, 8 1/2, The Power, The Competition, Greatest Hurdle, Gone are the Days, Popcorn, Something for Everyone, Manpower, The Producers, Formula, Splash, Shame, Stir, Titanic, Easy Money, No Holds Barred, Upper Hand, Rivals, Rocky, Until September, September, Midway, The Big Picture, Do the Right Thing, Brass Knuckles, The Accused, Humongous, Little Big Man, Chances, Vice Versa, Always, Nuts, The Seven-Ups, Big, Ordinary People, Possessed, Foul Play, The Survivors, Personal Services, Time after Time, Challenge, Testimony, Riding High, Captured, Utopia, Dark Horse, Invitation, Major League, Against all Odds, Fighting Fire with Fire, Trading Places, The End, Country, Losing Ground, Short Circuit, Lock Up, Dead Heat, Personal Best, Absolute Beginners, Staying Alive, Big Business, Network, Shopworm, Witness, High Tide, The Law, Wisdom, The Hand, Guilty, Illicit, Satisfaction, The Victim, Raw Deal, The Evil, Above the Law, Down by Law, Off Limits, The Enforcer, Fear, The Villain, The Weapon, Champion, The Natural, Deliverance, The Disappearance, The Challenge, Running, The Other, Top Gun, Players, The Trial, Paid, Head, The Squeeze, Seven Days, Cold Feet, Gambit Backfire, Contract, Cold Turkey, Lost, Plenty, After Hours, The Judge, The Trap, Leviathan, Stick, Tough Enough, Making It, Risky Business, Squeeze Play, Sitting Ducks, Boomerang, Big Trouble, The Principal, House of Cards, Tribute, America, Target, Paper Tiger, Distance, Local Hero, Being There, Fire Sale, Abandoned, The Lawyer, You and Me, Avalanche, Surrender, The First Time, Hard Choices, Showdown, Fail-Safe, The Great Race, Relentless, The Fountainhead, Out, House, Volunteers, October, 1984, Over the Top, Ran, Trapped, The Gate, Hard Times, Partners, California, Barrier, Five, Colors, Exposed, Switching Channels, Checking Out, Fame, Great Expectations, Without a Trace, Perfect, Out of Bounds, Offbeat, Critic’s Choice, The Longshot, The Sure Thing, Misunderstood, Boom Town, Static, Alien, Things Change, High Hopes, The Jackpot, Drive-in, Performance, New Faces, The Thing, The Crucible, Violated, All the Right Moves, The Creator, Interiors, Clue, Fashion, Winner Take All, Any Number Can Play, Insignificance, The Harder They Fell, Missing, Shakedown, Ruthless Predator, Dangerous, Critical Condition.

The BYU Law Review went one better and came up with an annotated version of the opinion in which every movie title is underlined. They found not 200, but 215 total movie titles! On the other hand, once you recall there are movies named “it,” “out,” “house,” “Nevada,” “guilty,” “satisfaction” and the like, you develop a sneaking suspicion that a lot of judicial opinions probably contain many movie titles. But I just noticed something. Powwow Highway, a film Kozinski defends the quality of in footnote 10 of his opinion, isn’t underlined. Does that make the total 216?

As the BYU Law Review article reported, Kozinski never confirmed or denied the rumors about intentionally loading up Syufy with movie titles.

United States v. Syufy Enterprises, Inc., 903 F.2d 659 (9th Cir. 1990); The Syufy Rosetta Stone, 1992 BYU L. Rev. 457 (1992).

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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