Anatomy of a Murder - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Anatomy of a Murder Reviews

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October 8, 2017
James Stewart is really good in this.
September 23, 2017
Very entertaining It had notes of humor which were very alleviating and enjoyable to watch being that the subject matter could get tense and serious at times. With George C Scott and James Stewart in the mix, your bound to have great back and forth witty dialogue.

That being said, this is one the best courtroom movies I've ever watched.
August 23, 2017
When you throw together actors I love and a genre that I am passionate about, it?s bound to be a hit for me. I was totally riveted by Anatomy of a Murder and the time flew by so fast I never would have guessed it was more than 2.5 hours. Jimmy Stewart delivers brilliantly as the defense attorney, and he has the kind of small-town vibe that feels appropriate for a guy from the Upper Peninsula. (Just a side note: there is not a single person in this movie who sounds like they are from the U.P., but lack of accents is not a big deal.) I loved when George C. Scott showed up as the big-shot lawyer (from my hometown) because he matched Stewart?s intensity. The back and forth between these two great actors was delightful, and I could have taken another hour of it. It was particularly great because the amiable judge was in the middle of it all adding some levity when things got a little overheated.

I think I might be heading into a territory that some might think of as spoilers, so those who want to avoid them, you should probably skip this paragraph of the review: The big risk that Anatomy of a Murder took was leaving it all somewhat ambiguous. A typical movie about a murder trial makes it clear by the end precisely what happened and why. They make it clear that the defendant is either guilty or innocent, and often that is telegraphed very early on so we know who to root for throughout the case. But in this film they stick to the case, they present facts as they are brought up in court, and they never tell you how to feel. Was the murder justified? You decide. Did a rape occur? Maybe. Was justice served? I don?t know. It?s frustratingly open to interpretation, and my own opinion kept shifting throughout the entire runtime. I think this might grow on me if I watch Anatomy of a Murder again, because it puts you in the mind of the jury, but for now I find the lack of clear-cut answers a little aggravating.

I love the way law is practiced in movies. I know that much of the drama and surprises don?t really happen this way in reality, but it is so exciting for me to watch. There are lots of twists and turns in this film that kept me guessing, and the results of the verdict were a mystery to me right up to the end. It did feel like there were some odd rabbit trails taken in the investigation of the case, and I think people who don?t love this kind of movie could get bored with Anatomy of a Murder. However, I took it all in stride and found that many of these things became significant later, so it was all worth the journey. Perhaps the one aspect that never totally clicked for me was the relationship between Jimmy Stewart and his coworkers (the overworked/underpaid secretary, and the drunk partner.) Otherwise, this is a unique film that took some chances and most of the time they paid off big for me. It had moments that made me laugh, and it also had some gripping drama that had me holding my breath. I?m anxious to watch it again and see if it clicks even more on a rewatch.
August 20, 2017
Part courtroom drama, part mystery with a kind of cynicism element that is usually a trademark of the film noir genre, Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder is a suspenseful masterpiece that will make you doubt every character's motives and testimonies as the story unfolds, leaving everything open to interpretation.
July 28, 2017
No surprise evidence, witnesses breaking down or dangerous snooping. This an actual trial, with actual people and actual development.
July 6, 2017
I had the pleasure of watching this film for the first time last weekend. The skill of the lead actors, including Jimmy Stewart, are phenomenal. It grips you from the first scene to the last. The screenwriter did a very nice job with dialogue and pace. If you have not seen this movie I would highly recommend you check it out!
½ June 18, 2017
Before actually watching the film, I thought that the legendary Matser of Suspense, Alfred Hitchock, had directed it, because it stars James Stewart and because it's an amazing mystery/drama, I thought that, this being a old courtroom film, with not a lot of action, that it was maybe going to be a little long, but no, I never wanted this movie to end, it's so captivating, entertaining and I definitely nominate it for one of the best movies ever made. Recommended !!
April 22, 2017
Paul Biegler (James Stewart) is a small-town lawyer. He was once the District Attorney of the area but, after 10 years in the job, lost the role in an election. Feeling betrayed by his community, he has his own legal practice but hardly tends to it, preferring to go fishing. Now he gets a huge case - an army Lieutenant has apparently murdered another man after that man allegedly raped his wife. The case will require every ounce of Biegler's cunning, experience and courtroom theatrical ability, especially when the prosecution bring in a famed hotshot attorney from the state's capital.

Brilliant - the greatest courtroom drama film ever made. The only similar movies that come close are To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) and Witness For The Prosecution (1957) and though while these have other great qualities neither matches Anatomy of a Murder for sheer courtroom realism and tension. (The TV mini series The Night Of also deserves a mention, I might add).

Directed by Otto Preminger (Laura, Exodus, The Man With The Golden Arm, In Harm's Way, among others), the movie holds your attention for every second of its 160-minute duration. Engaging, watertight plot with some clever legal twists and turns. Very realistic and edifying look into the justice system.

Add to this Preminger's superb direction. One of the reasons you can't look away is that Preminger wrings the maximum out of every scene and shot - great use of actor's body language and subtle little things that help the plot, mood and intrigue.

Completing it all is the nagging feeling that you aren't sure whether the accused is guilty or not. There's no good guys vs bad guys, just prosecution vs defense (like in real life). It's this ambiguity and mystery that make the movie so gritty and utterly compelling.

Anatomy of a Murder was nominated for seven Oscars in 1960, including for Best Picture, but won none. 1960 was the year of Ben Hur.
March 14, 2017
Jimmy Stewart at his country lawyer best. Tying flies as he defends a murderer. Interesting study of the legal system thirty five years before "The People vs OJ Simpson".
March 8, 2017
I think that the reason Anatomy of a Murder was so popular back in the day is because it was scandalous. Today, however, it doesn't seem different than many of the court procedurals on television. Jimmy Stewart is likeable as always, and the rest of the cast does a good job supporting him, but this is just an average movie with a somewhat unsatisfying ending.
January 26, 2017
One of the best James Stewart movies with Rear window Vertigo, the Man Who Knew Too Much, It's a Wonderful Life and The Philadelphia Story. The case is so well held in court that you are aiming for a final twist. Definitely a must see.
December 4, 2016
One way that the movies competed with TV was to offer content that couldn't be shown on the small screen. Preminger's courtroom drama is a case-in-point. By dealing with rape and the subsequent revenge murder in detail, the cast is able to use descriptive details and words such as sperm or panties that would be too much for younger (or conservative) viewers at home. Jimmy Stewart is the "humble country lawyer" who is craftier than he looks and may or may not be allowing sullen Ben Gazzara to use the temporary insanity defense to excuse his shooting of the man who raped his wife, Lee Remick. Remick plays the flirt well and allows the film to explore the question of victim-blame - although rather than suggest that she brought it on herself, the script implies that there wasn't a rape at all but rather consensual sex which led Gazzara to fly into a jealous rage. But was he insane at the time? George C. Scott plays the slick prosecuting attorney brought up from Lansing (to the Upper Peninsula where the film takes place) to combat Stewart. What results is a suspenseful drama with a few surprises and some panache (particularly in the context of 1959) from all concerned. Eve Arden and Arthur O'Connell are solid in supporting roles (on Stewart's team) but this is Stewart's show and he doesn't disappoint (but he doesn't push himself into darker territory like he would in Vertigo or the westerns he filmed with Anthony Mann). But the ending does make you think.
November 8, 2016
One of the most realistic and detailed movies about a court trial. I also liked that it had that noir atmosphere. However the editing could've been better. The end was barely satisfying and some parts in the middle seemed to drag. A very smart script and good performances esp by stuart and the other main lawyer. It was quite exciting watching those two go at it in the courtroom. The story was also pretty exciting and you find yourself wondering what really happened with both defendants not being very likable, although i think the jury got it right in the end.
½ October 18, 2016
One of the greatest courtroom dramas ever made. It was an extremely modern and daring film in it's day. The jazz score and Saul Bass title sequence were the epitome of cool. It flirts with topicality by casting Joseph Welch as the judge. The very detailed and explicit discussion of rape was boundary pushing. Even as all that fades with time, the detailed courtroom procedural is still gripping, and the fact that it doesn't let you completely in on everyone's motives means you're not completely sure where it might go at any time. Stewart is a perfectly cast lead. George C. Scott almost outshines him in his film debut.
½ September 11, 2016
Tedious and boring, might have been cutting edge in 1959. The only interesting thing about this movie was seeing how much more liberal we have become in society.
July 25, 2016
Otto Preminger was a director more persistent on performances than cinematography, or so I think. Anatomy of A Murder is the ultimate expression of this. The performances from Jimmy Stewart and George C. Scott (especially) are absolutely brilliant. For a film nearly 3 hours in length, Anatomy of A Murder is BRISK.

Side note: Oh, and a little tidbit: as a critic who notices the little things more than the big things, a man can be seen reading Leon Uris's Exodus. Exodus was Otto Preminger's next movie.
½ April 9, 2016
A controlled, detailed, though long telling of a mature subject that makes one brace for impact at any turn.
½ February 15, 2016
Riveting and humane, this is a high-tension courtroom drama and a mystery tale wrapped together. Modern directors would do well to imitate Preminger's respect for his audience in presenting different sides of a story and in leaving some questions unanswered. Brilliant !
December 30, 2015
I don't even like courtroom dramas OR Jimmy Stewart, but this movie was amazing. Bonus cameo by Sir Duke.
December 12, 2015
A remarkably witty and entertaining courtroom drama that features amazing performances from James Stewart and the rest of the cast.
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