The era of modern Memphis moviemaking got started in 1989 with the double-shot of Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire and Jim Jarmusch's homage to Memphis cool Mystery Train. But the era revved up considerably four years later with the high-toned film adaptation of The Firm, Mississippi author John Grisham's commercial phenomenon of a novel. John Branston penned a cover story on the film in the June 24, 1993, issue, just ahead of the film's June 26th local premiere at the Orpheum.
With Tom Cruise heading a cast that included Gene Hackman, Hal Holbrook, Gary Busey, Holly Hunter, Wilford Brimley, and others in a talented supporting cast and with behind-the-scenes talent such as director Sydney Pollack, producer Scott Rudin, and co-screenwriter Robert Towne, The Firm was — and arguably remains — the most prestigious film production the city's ever seen.
"Memphis hasn't had this much attention and exposure since Elvis died," Branston wrote.
And while Great Balls of Fire and Mystery Train may be more "Memphis" on the surface, The Firm presented the city's contemporary scene in perhaps a more direct way — not just via locations such as the Peabody, Elmwood Cemetery, a Hitchockian use of the Mud Island monorail, and Tom Cruise flipping along Beale Street but by the use of some 1,500 local extras, including "at least one lawyer from nearly every large Memphis firm." — Chris Herrington