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Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 37,361 users  
Reviews: 180 user | 92 critic

In a murder trial, the defendant says he suffered temporary insanity after the victim raped his wife. What is the truth, and will he win his case?

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Title: Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

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Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Asst. State Atty. Gen. Claude Dancer
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Russ Brown ...
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Brooks West ...
Dist. Atty. Mitch Lodwick
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Det. Sgt. James Durgo
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Dr. Dompierre
Alexander Campbell ...
Dr. W. Gregory Harcourt
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Storyline

Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), a lieutenant in the army, is arrested for the murder of a bartender, Barney Quill. He claims, in his defense, that the victim had raped and beaten up his wife Laura (Lee Remick). Although Laura supports her husband's story, the police surgeon can find no evidence that she has been raped. Manion is defended by Paul Biegler (James Stewart), a rather humble small-town lawyer. During the course of interviews, Biegler discovers that Manion is violently possessive and jealous, and also that his wife has a reputation for giving her favors to other men. Biegler realizes that the prosecution will try to make the court believe that Laura was the lover of the bartender and than Manion killed him and beat her up when he discovered them together. Manion pleads "not guilty" and Biegler, who knows that his case is weak, sets his assistants to try to find a witness who will save Manion. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

September 1959 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Anatomía de un asesinato  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Otto Preminger originally wanted Lee Remick for the part of Laura because he had been impressed with her debut in A Face in the Crowd (1957) and knew that she could play a young sultry woman (even though Remick was 8 months pregnant when Preminger approached her for the role). A few weeks later he called to tell her that he had given the part to Lana Turner and instead offered her a smaller role of Mary Pilant, but Remick boldly refused. On an especially hectic day when Remick received a call saying that she had the part of Laura, she thought it was a joke and hung up. It took another phone call to convince her that she truly did have the lead female role. See more »

Goofs

In the opening shot, the camera-car's shadow is visible on Biegler's car. See more »

Quotes

Parnell Emmett McCarthy: Did you give the lieutenant the Well-Known Lecture?
Paul Biegler: If you mean, did I coach him into a phony story, no.
Parnell Emmett McCarthy: Maybe you're too pure, Paul. Too pure for the natural impurities of the law.
See more »

Connections

References 12 Angry Men (1957) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Intense, Dramatic, Well Crafted Suspense...
6 August 1999 | by (Williamsburg, Virginia) – See all my reviews

Well filmed, beautifully acted, and painstakingly directed, this film deserves the highest praise.

James Stewart brings his customary stammering, quirky charm to a role that could have easily become overwhelmingly serious. Lee Remick is seen establishing her early image as the somehow fragile, undeniably seductive pawn (see also "A Face in The Crowd"), while Gazzara wavers intensely somewhere between heartless murderer and protective husband. The supporting cast is strong, creating a human backdrop for the senior players, keeping the story in the real world, effectively preventing this from becoming an exercise in legal theory.

This film is noteworthy for a myriad of reasons, but most specifically because it addresses the still controversial issue of acquaintance rape, and presents us with a victim of questionable morals. At the same time our murder victim is seen as a monster, then a friend and father. There really are no heroes here, no noble defenders, no pristine heroines, no completely innocent bystanders...both sides take their turns pointing fingers, each claiming that the other only got what they deserved.

We are forced to re-evaluate our thoughts on what constitutes justifiable homicide--the unwritten law that Manion speaks of in the film versus the law as written that Biegler must now interpret. This manipulation of intended meaning sets a somewhat tragic precedent evident in the legal system we work within today.

This film is highly entertaining, and excellent for discussion. Watch it with some of your more philosophical friends.


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Do you think she was raped? RowTheBoats
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Bad actor: The Judge rios_119
Very poor direction thirsch-2
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the ending ? (did anyone want a twist?) film_buffy
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