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Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Unrated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  September 1959 (Austria)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 40,664 users  
Reviews: 189 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?

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(screenplay), (based on the novel by) (as Robert Traver)
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Title: Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Anatomy of a Murder (1959) on IMDb 8.1/10

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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

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Last year's No.1 best-seller ... This year's No.1 motion picture. See more »


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

Production Co:

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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 negotiated with Richard Widmark to appear as Lt. Frederick Manion. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Judge Weaver: One judge is quite like another. The only differences may be in the state of their digestions or their proclivities for sleeping on the bench. For myself, I can digest pig iron. And while I might appear to doze occasionally, you will find that I am easily awakened, particularly if shaken gently by a good lawyer with a nice point of law.
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Featured in Maltin on Movies: Wrath of the Titans (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

First-Class Courtroom Drama
2 December 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

As a courtroom drama, "Anatomy of a Murder" would be hard to surpass. It is a first-class production with an interesting and unpredictable story plus a strong cast. It works admirably, both as a story and as a portrayal of the workings of the law. It avoids the labored dramatics and contrived resolutions in which so many movies of the genre indulge, and it also declines to shy away from pointing out the more ill-conceived features of the legal system.

From his first scene, James Stewart pulls the viewer right into the world of lawyer Paul Biegler. It takes little time before you come to know him and to get a pretty good idea of what his life is like. His scenes with Arthur O'Connell work well in rounding out the picture. The two are neither heroic nor brilliant, but simply sympathetic and believable.

Into Biegler's world then come the characters played by Ben Gazzara and Lee Remick, a married couple with more than their share of faults. By making them less than ideal clients, the movie takes a chance on losing the audience's sympathy, but it adds credibility and complexity to the story. Both roles are played well - again, it seems as if you know a lot more about them than is specifically stated.

When George C. Scott enters the picture, he adds yet another dimension. His character arrives at just the right time to complicate the plot, and his legal skirmishing with Stewart makes some dry material come to life in an interesting way. Eve Arden also has some good moments, and her character is used in just the right amount to add some amusement without causing a distraction from the main story. It's also interesting to see Joseph Welch as the judge, and his portrayal works well enough.

Otto Preminger holds everything together nicely, with the right amount of detail and a pace that keeps the story moving steadily. The result is a very nice contrast to the many run-of-the mill legal/courtroom movies that present such an idealized view of the justice system. It maintains a careful balance, making clear the flaws and unpleasant realities of the system, yet never taking cheap shots either. And it's also an interesting and involved story, one of the most carefully-crafted of its kind.


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Message Boards

Recent Posts
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
My hometown movie... ltappy
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