My Cousin Vinny
Two carefree pals traveling through Alabama are mistakenly arrested, and charged with murder. Fortunately, one of them has a cousin who's a lawyer - Vincent Gambini, a former auto mechanic from Brooklyn who just passed his bar exam after his sixth try. When he arrives with his leather-clad girlfriend , to try his first case, it's a real shock - for him and the Deep South!
Driving through Alabama in their green 1964 Buick Skylark convertible, Billy Gambini and Stan Rothenstein, college students from New York who just got scholarships to UCLA, shop at a convenience store and accidentally shoplift a can of tuna. After they leave, the store clerk is robbed, shot and killed, and Billy and Stan are arrested in connection with the crimes. Due to circumstantial evidence and a confession to the shoplifting misconstrued as one to the shooting, Billy is charged with murder, and Stan as an accessory. Billy’s mother tells her son via telephone there is an attorney in the family: his cousin Vinny. Vincent LaGuardia Gambini travels there, accompanied by his fiancée, Mona Lisa Vito. Although he is willing to take the case, Vinny is a personal injury lawyer from Brooklyn, New York, newly admitted to the bar on his sixth attempt, and with no trial experience.
Vinny manages to fool the trial judge, Chamberlain Haller, about being experienced enough for the case. His ignorance of basic courtroom procedures, dress code, and his abrasive and disrespectful attitude, cause the judge to repeatedly hold him in contempt. Much to his clients’ consternation, Vinny does not cross-examine any of the witnesses in the probable cause hearing. Except for lack of a murder weapon, it appears that the district attorney, Jim Trotter III (Lane Smith), has an airtight case that will lead to convictions. After Vinny’s poor showing at the hearing, Stan fires him and uses the public defender, John Gibbons, and nearly convinces Billy to do the same.
Despite some further missteps in the trial, Vinny shows that he is able to make up for his ignorance and inexperience with an aggressive and perceptive questioning style. The public defender is unprepared, passive, and has a debilitating stammer, but Vinny quickly discredits the testimony of the first witness. Billy’s faith is restored, and Stan fires the public defender…