Reversal of Fortune

Synopsis: Alan Dershowitz a brilliant professor of law is hired by wealthy socialite Claus von Bulow to attempt to overturn his two convictions for attempted murder of his extremely wealthy wife. Based on a true story the film concentrates not on the trial like other legal thrillers, but on the preparatory work that Dershowitz and his students put in as they attempt to disprove the prosecution's case and achieve the Reversal of Fortune of the title.
Director(s): Barbet Schroeder
Production: Warner Home Video
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 12 wins & 16 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
111 min

This was my body.

On December 27, 1979,

I lay in bed all day.

Whether I was asleep or in a coma

later became a subject of dispute.

When my breathing

became obstructed...


... my husband, Claus von Bulow,

finally did as my maid

had been urging all day:

he summoned a physician.

Dr. Paultees?

I stopped breathing.

My heart stopped beating.

By this time,

I was certainly in a deep coma

from which I awoke several hours later.

By the next morning,

I was myself again.

There's no reason for all this fuss.

I never felt better in my whole life.

This first coma aroused

suspicion and fear

in the minds of my personal maid Maria,

my son Alex,

and my elder daughter Ala.

From this time on, though they never

voiced their suspicions to me,

they kept a vigilant eye on Claus.

A year later, just before Christmas,

their darkest fears seemed justified.

- Has Mummy had breakfast yet?

- No, we haven't seen her.

My husband did not want our daughter

Cosima to see what he had found,

so he motioned to his stepson Alex.

Second coma. My pulse was 38,

my temperature 81.6 degrees.

Did you call an ambulance?

Nicholas, ask Robert to open the main

gates. We're expecting an ambulance.

Send an ambulance immediately...

Keep her in something warm.

A blanket or anything you can find.

All this activity was pointless.

We'd better do an EEG.

I never woke from this coma,

and I never will.

I am what doctors call

"persistent vegetative", a vegetable.

According to medical experts, I could

stay like this for a very long time,

brain-dead, body better than ever.

Enter Robert Brillhoffer,

former Manhattan district attorney.

My two children from my first marriage,

Alex and Ala von Auersberg,

hired Brillhoffer to investigate the case.

He put a "do not resuscitate" order

on her hospital chart.

They sent Alex

and a private investigator

back to my Newport cottage,

Clarendon Court, to search for drugs.

They found plenty... in Claus's closet.

On top of that, the hospital lab reported

that my blood insulin on admission

was 14 times normal,

a level almost surely caused by injection.

Insulin injection could

readily cause coma...

or death.

This encrusted needle

tested positive for insulin.

Alex couldn't wait to get back

and show Brillhoffer.

Now they felt they had

the murder weapon.

All they lacked was the motive.

At that moment, my husband

was vacationing with his mistress,

the very beautiful soap-opera actress,

Alexandra Isles.

Oh, God!

Mrs. Isles, a divorce, was the daughter

of an old friend, Count Billy Botsky.

Brillhoffer also discovered

that, at my death,

Claus, whose own net worth

was only a million dollars,

stood to inherit 14 million from me.

Alexandra later testified that Claus

showed her a legal analysis of my will.

On the evidence collected by Alex,

Ala and their lawyer Brillhoffer,

my husband was accused of twice trying

to murder me with injections of insulin.

On March 16, 1982, he was

found guilty on both counts.

... committed

on December 27, 1979...

Even Alexandra Isles

testified against him.


As to count two, charged the defendant

committed on December 21, 1980,

a crime of assault with intent to murder.

- How do you find?

- Guilty.

You are about to see how

Claus von Bulow sought to reverse

or escape from that jury's verdict.

You tell me.

And two! Here it comes. Here we go,

taking you downtown! And Dersh...

Take it in! Foul! OK, here I go.

Watch the hands! Watch the hands!

Yeah, hello.


Oh, sh*t... Bottom line.

Aw, sh*t!


Let's try that again.

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Nicholas Kazan

Nicholas Kazan (born September 15, 1945) is an American screenwriter, film producer and director. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Reversal of Fortune" STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 29 Sep. 2023. <>.

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