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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.
All Critics (42)
| Top Critics (6)
| Fresh (42)
| Rotten (0)
| DVD (5)
At 160 minutes, Anatomy is longer than the subject warrants, but the pace seldom slackens -- thanks to the competence of Director Otto Preminger.
To me Remick's damaged, dysfunctional presence is the really subversive thing about the picture. And Stewart's grandstanding attorney propels this long film to its final verdict.
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.
Coolly absorbing, nonchalantly cynical.
It is the best courtroom melodrama this old judge has ever seen.
Otto Preminger's cynical view of the judicial system is curiously contemporary and still serves as a blueprint for numerous TV 'tec shows.
This is probably the greatest courtroom drama ever made and it features James Stewart's finest screen performance.
(Stewart's character) finishes the film an enigma, possibly the good go-getter of Capra but too much of a shadow.
Otto Preminger, no stranger to ruffling moral-watchdog feathers, never succumbs to the sleaziness inherent in the material, instead turning out an intelligent and tightly controlled drama that ranks as one of the all-time great courtroom procedurals.
Even with the glut of crime-related TV dramas that pepper today's screens, you'd be hard pressed to find a courtroom story that doesn't have you rooting one way or the other with a heavy-handed POV. This one doesn't it's way ahead of its time.
simultaneously plays by and punctures the expectations of the courtroom thriller
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.
Amazing dialog and performances. There's a reason you've seen this ripped off 100000000 times.
The legal procedural drama starts here.
Plus, a Duke Ellington score!
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:
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