Early in the book he quotes Paul Scofield, portraying Sir Thomas More, in a Man for All Seasons:
I’d give even the devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s
He says his father liked what Dana Andrews wrote in The Oxbow Incident before being lynched:
Law is the very conscience of humanity.
Beyond his father Billy’s heroes were lawyers such as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men.
A pretty girl reminds him of Betty Bedelia in Presumed Innocent.
While functioning as a jailhouse lawyer, when he is an inmate at Soledad, he has difficulties with an inmate client:
I was having more trouble with this guy than Jimmy Stewart did with his clients in Anatomy of a Murder.
On whether his inmate client was framed for murder he again thinks of Bonnie Bedelia in Presumed Innocent claiming she pulled off a better frame-up with “a cocktail glass and Harrison Ford’s semen”.
Billy goes as far back as the movie, Fury, from 1936 where Spencer Tracy orchestrated a frame with a “burnt ring”.
The Verdict was his father’s favourite movie. Billy asked his father if Paul Newman’s actions in the movie by breaking the law and breaching professional ethics were acceptable:
“When you take up the fight against Satan, son” he said, “whether its big firms like James Mason’s or prosecutors for the state of Oklahoma, you’ll have to battle ‘em tooth and nail and fight fire with fire. The Lord only helps those who help themselves.”
His love of law on the screen is limited to movies. When, after being released and joining a prestigious San Francisco law firm, a lawyer talks to Bill about coping with “Ally McBeal wannabes and refugees from L.A. Law reruns. Billy says he “is not familiar with those shows”.
When Billy starts earning good money and being able to buy a car and some new suits he feels like “Tom Cruise at the beginning of The Firm”.
When he is dumped on by an antagonistic partner he says Andrew Beckett, the lawyer with AIDS, in Philadelphia was treated by better by his firm.
Struggling at trial with little knowledge of procedure on how to question a witness about a document he recalls Glenn Ford in Trial and asks permission to approach the witness.
After he pushes too hard to get a specific answer from a witness he stops himself from going further by remembering how George C. Scott in Anatomy of a Murder lost the case by asking one question too many that he did not know the answer to on cross-examination.
The many references to the movies were a clever way to give Billy legal knowledge and added a nice touch to his character. He also liked country music. In Billy, Martel created an interesting and well rounded personality.