IN the opening minutes of  the 1993 movie ''The Firm'' an in-demand Harvard Law School graduate named Mitch McDeere takes meeting with one legal firm after another, each offering him a different vision for his future.

Does he want to be a judge someday? World he like to have a lighter workload so he can start a family? Does the California's lifestyle sound appealing? How about Wall Street?

Mitch [played with no small amount of ''Top Gun'' swagger by Tom Cruise] ends up choosing the  under-the-radar firm Bendini, Lambert & Locke, in Memphis.

He's impressed by its down home charm and likes that it is off the beaten path. New York? Washington? That's been done. Time to give Tennessee a try.

In a way, Mitch was a lot like America as a whole, circa 1993, when the ''New South'' was on the rise. I was living in my hometown. Nashville, at the time, and I had just graduated from the university of Georgia. I was tracking all the little victories of my region - just as I was counting all all the division titles for my beloved Atlanta Braves.

in 1993, the country had just put the former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in the White House, with the former Tennessee Senator AI Gore as his vice president.

The Atlanta hip-hop acts TLC, Kriss Kross and Arrested Development were all over the BillBoard charts.

The sitcom ''Designing Women'' set in Georgia, was a staple in the Nielsen Top 10. And masses of readers were buying the legal thrillers written by the Mississippi lawyer John Grisham   

Summer 1993 was a a particularly good time for Grisham. His fourth book : ''The Client,'' was still high on the New York Times and best-seller list, three months after reaching No 1.

And on the Wednesday, before the Fourth of July, the movie adaption of Grisham's ''The Firm''  opened in multiplexes across the country, on its way to becoming the summer's third-biggest domestic box office earner, right behind ''Jurassic Park'' and ''The Fugitive''.

These days, it's hard to imagine that a legal thriller - even one led by reliable draw like Cruise - could  become a summer blockbuster. The Firm'' wasn't a surprise hit, either. Paramount expected it to be a smash; that's why it had the coveted holiday weekend release.

That's what a phenomenon Grisham was at a time.

''The Firm'' wasn't Grisham's first novel. But it was the first big break, and the film remains the best cinematic adaptation of a Grisham novel. Four other adaptations also hit the big screen during Clinton's first term :

''The Pelican Brief.'' also released in in 1993 : ''The Client.'' from 1994; and '' A Time To Kill'' -opened in the top spot at the domestic box office. Set mostly in Tennessee Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, all five examine to some degree what had and hadn't changed in the south since Jim Crow days.

The movie versions of  Grisham's stories take their lead from the author's obvious outrage at the South's persistent racial and class divisions.

His heroes tend to be young men who grew up poor and had to work multiple jobs to put themselves through Law school. Their sympathies lie with the underdogs - most famously in ''A Time To Kill,'' in which a struggling lawyer defends a black man for killing the racists who raped and beat his 10-year-old daughter.

The political and judicial system systems depicted in Grisham novels and films were biased against people of color and anyone who struggled to pay the bills.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research when John Graham  movies ruled, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Noel Murray.


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