'My Cousin Vinny' turns 20!

By Robert Kirchgassner ,
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The classic comedy My Cousin Vinny turns 20 this year.

In this film, the title character (played by Joe Pesci) is a New York attorney who is called to Alabama when his cousin Bill (Ralph Macchio) and his friend Stan (Mitchell Whitfield) are wrongfully accused of murder.

Their joy at finding a lawyer in the family soon changes when Vinny reveals that he only became a lawyer weeks ago and that this will be his first-ever court case. Despite that, Bill, out of family loyalty, keeps Vinny’s services.

To compound his issues, Vinny must contend with his frustrated fiancée, Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei), who has accompanied him on his road trip, and the intimidating judge (Fred Gwynne), who makes it clear that he will not tolerate any deviations from court policy.

If any role fit Pesci like a glove it was this one. Tomei proves a great match for him, and she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her funny work (sadly, she became the unfair target of rumors that someone else’s name was in the envelope that Oscar night).

Gwynne, who by 1992 was praised as one of the great character actors, is also great as the judge. Sadly, he would pass on a year later.

The film was directed by Jonathan Lynn, who directed Clue (1985) and would go on to direct The Whole Nine Yards (2000).



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