In the tradition of his earlier work in Grapes of Wrath and Twelve Angry Men, Henry Fonda played another social-protest role in the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV presentation Gideon's Trumpet. Clarence Earl Gideon (Fonda) is a poor, ill-tempered Florida handyman who is arrested for petty larceny in 1961. Unable to afford a lawyer, Gideon is sentenced to five years in prison. His treatment by the Florida judicial system, a clear violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, is brought to the attention of the Supreme Court. As a result, a landmark decision is reached, assuring free legal representation for anyone accused of a crime in the United States. Also appearing are Jose Ferrer as Gideon's attorney Abe Fortas, John Houseman (who also produced) as the Chief Justice, and Fay Wray as the owner of the lodging establishment where Gideon lived. Gideon's Trumpet premiered on April 30, 1980.
by Hal Erickson synopsis