Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Critic Consensus: One of cinema's greatest courtroom dramas, Anatomy of a Murder is tense, thought-provoking, and brilliantly acted, with great performances from James Stewart and George C. Scott.
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as Paul Biegler
as Laura Manion
as Lt. Frederick Manion
as Parnell McCarthy
as Mary Pilant
as Judge Weaver
as Mitch Lodwick
as Claude Dancer
as Alphonse Paquette
as Dr. Smith
as Dr. Harcourt
as Mr. Burke
as Mr. Lemon
as Dr. Dompierre
as Dr. Raschid
as Sgt. Durgo
as Duane Miller
as Court Clerk
as Sheriff Battisfore
as Army Sergeant
as Distinguished Gentle...
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Critic Reviews for Anatomy of a Murder
At 160 minutes, Anatomy is longer than the subject warrants, but the pace seldom slackens -- thanks to the competence of Director Otto Preminger.
Preminger purposely creates situations that flicker with uncertainty, that may be evaluated in different ways. Motives are mixed and dubious, and, therefore, sustain interest.
As an entertaining look at legal process, this is spellbinding all the way, infused by an ambiguity about human personality and motivation that is Preminger's trademark, and the location shooting is superb.
Otto Preminger's cynical view of the judicial system is curiously contemporary and still serves as a blueprint for numerous TV 'tec shows.
Audience Reviews for Anatomy of a Murder
I generally loathe courtroom dramas - (so tired!) - but this is a real good one.
Terrific use of locations and location sound.
One of the goofiest trailers I've ever seen:
With a fantastic cinematography and superb direction, this superlative courtroom procedural unfolds in an unhurried fashion, daring to make outspoken use of sexual terminology (something unthinkable at the time it was made) and presenting a brilliantly complex script centered on a fiery, breathtaking rhetorical combat of the highest quality.
Though this adaptation of a best-selling novel may not seem like it now, it was quite a groundbreaking big deal when it came out.
The story, a stirring courtroom drama, follows an alcoholic, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants small town lawyer (Jimmy Stewart going against type), defending a man who openly admits to murdering someone, but only because said individual raped his wife, who, admittedly, is kinda a floozy. Stewart's character understandably has a lot going against him, and that's not including the fact that the prosecution is made up of some slick, hard-cased big city guys led by George C. Scott.
Like I said, this was a big deal at the time, mostly due to the subject matter, and how director Otto Preminger dealt with it. He did a great job of dealing with stuff that, until then, hadn't really been covered in cinema. Yeah, like I said, some of the impact has diminished, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's still a powerful and engaging piece of work.
The opening titles by Saul Bass are the stuff of legend, the score by Duke Ellington is a jazz classic, and the performances, as one may expect, are quite good. I mean, there's Stewart, Scott, and Lee Remick as the floozy wife, all of whom are quite great. Oh yeah, and Ben Gazzara as the man on trial.
This one kinda set the standard for a lot of courtroom dramas to come, and it is quite realistic, accurate, and does a fine job of trying to show things in a pretty down to Earth way.
So yeah, I dig the film a lot, but I'll admit that the running time could be cut down a bit, and some of the pacing trimmed as well. It's quite engaging, but once in a while it gets slightly boring, but not enough to really derail things. While I don't feel like a lot of people do, I still think this is a fine film worth seeing, even if I don't regard it as a masterpiece like a lot of others do.
Anatomy of a Murder Quotes
|Pamell McCarthy:||The lieutenant goes to Quill's place and plugs Mr. Quill about five times, which causes Mr. Quill to promptly die of lead poisoning.|
|Paul Biegler:||I'm just a humble country lawyer trying to do the best I can against this brilliant prosecutor from the big city of Lansing.|
|Pamell McCarthy:||Gin!... I knew there was something wrong with that guy. I never met a gin drinker yet that you could trust.|
|Judge Weaver:||One judge is quite like another. The only differences may be in the state of their digestions or their proclivities for sleeping on the bench. For myself, I can digest pig iron. And while I might appear to doze occasionally, you will find that I am easily awakened, particularly if shaken gently by a good lawyer with a nice point of law.|
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