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Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 38,411 users  
Reviews: 183 user | 91 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 ...
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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:

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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 disliked the use of flashbacks; hence there are none in the film. See more »

Goofs

Several times in the movie one of the characters makes a humorous comment and you hear the courtroom audience burst out laughing; however, when the camera immediately turns to the audience, they are shown completely still and without emotion. See more »

Quotes

Paul Biegler: As a lawyer, I've had to learn that people aren't just good or just bad. People are many things.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Great
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


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