From Porn Trial to Smokey and the Bandit

The Bill of Rights is an essential part of most social studies curricula — in California, you could squeeze it in during practically every grade from the eighth on. While mnemonics were probably the most effective part of the unit, by far my favorite activity involving the first ten amendments were my marvelously subversive video clips.

So very helpfully, Rotten Tomatoes compiled its own list of ten movie clips, each corresponding to one of the ten amendments. Some of them are obvious — The People v. Larry Flynt, 12 Angry Men.

Some of them are far-fetched — for quartering soldiers, they turn to Chevy Chase. Nonetheless, it was solid list, and the commentary was at times excellent.

It’s impossible to wrong with nuggets like this:

In The Godfather Part 2, … Michael didn’t get to the top of the criminal world by being a dummy, and his knowledge of the Constitution is particularly astute. “I have not taken refuge behind the Fifth Amendment although it is my right to do so,” he tells the Senate, before evoking the Sixth Amendment. “I challenge this committee to produce any witness or evidence against me.” The government’s case falls apart, and Michael eventually violates his brother Fredo’s Sixth Amendment rights by exercising his Second Amendment rights.

However hard it might have been to stretch your brain to collect examples of third, ninth and tenth amendments, Hollywood overflows with examples of the second amendment and violations of the fourth and fifth.

Hardest part of writing about those must have been to choose just one clip for each.




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