Patty Duke in Courting Justice (1995) (aka: When the Vows Break)

Infuriated by Injustice

Housewife Barbara Parker (Patty Duke) is less than happy when she discovers that her husband Art (Art Hindle) changed his life insurance policy without consulting her to make their grown up daughter the sole beneficiary. It leads to a blazing row and Barbara realising their marriage is over and that she wants a divorce which leads to court where to her horror the judge decides that Barbara is at fault for the failure of their marriage and awards her just 2% of the shared assets. Insulted and infuriated by the injustice that as a housewife she has not contributed to the shared wealth and assets whilst angered by the sexism of the justice she sets about appealing the judge's decision by representing herself.

It's the mid 90s and you are looking for a respected actress to appear in a movie as a wife and mother who has suffered an injustice, who do you call? Well it seems when it comes to 90s TV movies the woman is Patty Duke who appeared in what seems one TV movie after another which featured her playing the meek wife & mother who found the inner strength to fight back. And Duke once again pulls it off in "Courting Justice" despite the character being thinly written as she manages to get the audience on her side and behind her as she takes matter in to her own hands and takes on the system.

Robin Gammell in Courting Justice (1995) (aka: When the Vows Break)

Aside from the performance from Duke "Courting Justice" takes us into the realms of a true story and as I said it is a woman taking on the system which served her an injustice when it came to her divorce. Now to me we have is a mix of sexism when it comes to the judge's attitudes but also a system which does not value the wife's contribution to the family's assets and fortune when she has been the homemaker. There is some depth to this but not a huge amount purely because "Courting Justice" is a movie made for an average person who watches TV movies not someone fascinated with the ins and outs of the legal system and who would understand some of the finer points of divorce cases.

There is another reason for there being a lack of depth and "Courting Justice" is another one of those movies which is just as much about a woman realising her potential to be more than the "little woman" indoors. And as I mentioned before Patty Duke is well chosen to play this role because she has this ability to go from playing it meek to powerful and a woman in control with out losing her femininity as seen in this with the character finding herself being courted and with her taking control of things.

What this all boils down to is that "Courting Justice" is both interesting and entertaining but at the same time typical with Patty Duke delivering the same sort of effective performance that she was called upon to do in several TV movies during the 90s.