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Judging the movies

One of the few things definitively revealed during Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.'s confirmation hearings is that his favorite movies are ''North by Northwest" and ''Doctor Zhivago." So what are Justice Stephen G. Breyer's? Asked that question last week, Breyer was less absolute. ''They change from time to time," he said.

When Breyer was at Harvard Law School, students were allowed to take one class at Harvard College. ''So I chose Stanley Cavell's course on the movies," Breyer recalled. ''Erwin Griswold, the dean, called me in. 'Why are you taking a course like that?' I said, 'I like the movies.' He gave in."

Rather than rank titles, Breyer started reeling some off: ''Citizen Kane," ''Les Enfants du Paradis," ''The Searchers," ''The Awful Truth," ''The Philadelphia Story," ''The Man Who Knew Too Much" (''the original one"), Stanley Kubrick's ''Lolita" (''the remake leaves a lot to be desired"), ''Julius Caesar," ''Paths of Glory," ''La Grande Illusion," ''Seven Samurai," ''Million Dollar Baby," and ''Mulholland Drive."

''If you want a judicial movie," Breyer added, ''I like '12 Angry Men.' The longer I've been a judge, the more I like it. It's a Sidney Lumet movie, and you feel, 'My goodness, he got it, the power of the jury.' "

MARK FEENEY

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