Based loosely on a book by the Guildford Four's Gerard Conlon, the film is about one of the most embarrassing miscarriages of justice in recent British history.
The court action against Universal Studios, the distributors, is by Jane Cutolo, 29, of Berkeley. It will give rise to renewed suspicions among the Irish makers that efforts are being made to discredit the film in the run-up to next week's Academy Awards. Such accusations arose last month when Terry George, the co-writer, was held for several hours by immigration authorities at Kennedy airport in New York. British newspapers had just revealed he had served a jail sentence after being arrested in a car with an Irish National Liberation Army member in 1975.
On Monday, the film industry's power brokers gather in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where this year's Academy Awards will be revealed before an expected billion-strong television audience. Many will have seen the film, nominated for seven Oscars but likely to be overshadowed by Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List.
As is customary for nominated films, the distributors have circulated videotapes to the 5,000 Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences members to win votes. Full- page advertisements have been placed in Hollywood trade papers, and scores of extra screenings given.
Despite the film's critical success in the US, the mainstream American media have paid little attention to attempts at vilification by some in the British media and at Westminster. Those attacks have included hysterical predictions that the star, Daniel Day-Lewis, has ruined his chance of becoming one of Hollywood's great leading men.
Academy members are also unlikely to know much about the far more significant criticisms of inaccuracies raised by some of the Maguire Seven, and by the historian Robert Kee, one of the first to expose publicly the injustices inflicted on the Guildford Four. He has lambasted the film for telling 'so many lies that it makes its central proposition about a miscarriage of justice questionable,' and of doing 'the work of those who may wish to prevent any more of the truth emerging'.
Michael Medved, a conservative commentator on Hollywood, said: 'The educated classes are very well-informed about South Africa, but if you ask them about the so-called Irish question, they have no real knowledge of it. Most think that the majority of people in Northern Ireland are in the IRA.'
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