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Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Unrated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  September 1959 (Austria)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 42,070 users  
Reviews: 190 user | 93 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?



(screenplay), (based on the novel by) (as Robert Traver)
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Top 250 Movies #241 | Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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


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


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

September 1959 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Anatomía de un asesinato  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was James Stewart's last Oscar-nominated performance. It also was George C. Scott's first Oscar-nominated performance. See more »


When the jury returns to court following the first session an extra trips up the stairs behind Paul Biegler. See more »


Parnell Emmett McCarthy: Twelve people go off into a room: twelve different minds, twelve different hearts, from twelve different walks of life; twelve sets of eyes, ears, shapes, and sizes. And these twelve people are asked to judge another human being as different from them as they are from each other. And in their judgment, they must become of one mind - unanimous. It's one of the miracles of Man's disorganized soul that they can do it, and in most instances, do it right well. God bless juries.
See more »


Referenced in Murder of a Cat (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

10 January 2000 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

I'd made up my mind in less than ten minutes about "Anatomy of a Murder". It did not have the ongoing twists like "Witness for the Prosecution", character oriented or plot driven. Nor was it a movie with the compelling, issue ploughing story line like "To Kill a Mockingbird". At the same time, it lacked historical interest, but the incredibly dramatised realism of "Judgement at Nuremberg".

Instead, I thought, a film with a two and a half hour run time, and I hate sitting in front of movies running longer than two hours as it is!

I found it, but it took me a while to realise the one great asset this movie had. Jimmy Stewart.

Without a doubt, this engrossing movie about rape, murder and law evoked memories of a Jimmy Stewart seen twenty years earlier in "Mr Smith Goes to Washington". The small town, humble, idealised man who triumphs over the hard headed city men. In a sense, almost the "It's a Wonderful Life" of 1959 with no angels, no attempted suicides, no wonderful, sentimental, reminding message of what life is about.

One of the best things about the movie is the Duke Ellington score. The brass jazz sounds against the actual darkness of the plot completely and totally surprised me, it being so different to the usual dark sombre tones, screeching string instruments trying to stir suspense in the audience.

Supporting cast is great. Lee Remick, Eve Arden, Arthur O'Connell and George C. Scott all put in great performances. But I enjoyed Jimmy very much as the fisherman, lively, wise cracking lawyer.

Otto Preminger directed "Laura" fifteen years earlier. Seems a bit like similar plot lines. Beautiful woman caught up in murder, men lusting after beautiful woman, continual plot turns and all the rest. But Preminger directed this film well.

What did I find by the end? I found some of the the sarcastic suspense in Jimmy and the film, similar to Billy Wilder's "Witness for the Prosecution". The drama was just as alive as it was with "Judgement at Nuremberg". I found myself pulled in as much as I was with "To Kill a Mockingbird". In short, I really recommend this film to everyone who enjoys a few thrills and suspense.

In fact, I liked it so much, I'm going to read the book.

Rating: 9/10

42 of 68 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Do you think she was raped? RowTheBoats
Bad actor: The Judge rios_119
the ending ? (did anyone want a twist?) film_buffy
Do you think it deserves very high review? jr8rdt
Very poor direction thirsch-2
One of the best assets any movie could have... oldmotem
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