A gripping thriller based on John Grisham’s 1994 best seller, The Chamber is the compelling tale of an idealistic young lawyer who is forced to confront the secrets of his family’s dark past. 

In 28 days, convicted killer and white supremacist Sam Cayhall, the oldest inmate on death, row in America, will die in the Mississippi gas chamber for the 1967 bombing murders of two small children. While counting down his final days, Sam is visited by a stranger: young, inexperienced law associate Adam Hall, who comes to Parchman Prison to try and save this unrepentant racist and find meaning in his own life. Although his late father changed his family name, Adam is Sam’s grandson. 

The Chamber is a Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment presentation of A Brian Grazer/Davis Entertainment production. The film stars Chris O’Donnell as the young lawyer, Adam Hall, and two-time Academy Award -winner Gene Hackman as his grandfather, Sam Cayhall. 

As the days, hours and minutes swiftly tick away, Adam uses every legal strategy he knows to win clemency for his grandfather, losing each of these desperate battles in the higher courts. Vehemently opposed to capital punishment, Adam also strongly believes that Sam may not be guilty of the 1967 murders, and hopes to uncover the identity of the real bomber while proving Sam’s innocence. 

Adam’s appeals ultimately reach Governor David McCallister, the man who, years earlier, had been the District Attorney who finally won a conviction against Sam after two trials had resulted in hung juries. The charismatic, ambitious politician now solely holds the power to grant clemency to Cayhall after years of court appeals before dozens of judges have been denied. While petitioning the Mississippi governor, Adam also forms an alliance with McCallister’s legal aide, Nora Stark, who may know where to find the irrefutable proof that could vindicate Sam and save his life. 

As he investigates the case, Adam traces both Sam’s past and the history of their family, ultimately forcing his grandfather to recount the shameful mystery of his misdeeds and finally, to repent his role in the atrocities which destroyed his family. With the execution date looming before him and hope fading each hour, Adam’s grueling experience becomes more frightening as he is menacingly shadowed by a mysterious figure who may know the truth behind the crime for which Sam now awaits death in “the Chamber.”



June 20, 1997


James Foley


John Grisham (novel), William Goldman & Chris Reese (screenplay)


United International Pictures (UIP)


Drama, Thriller




113 minutes