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Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Unrated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | September 1959 (Austria)
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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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
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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

Taglines:

No search of human emotions has ever probed so deeply, so truthfully as ... Anatomy of a Murder. See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

September 1959 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Anatomie eines Mordes  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "law library" in the courthouse was actually filmed in the Carnegie Public Library in Ishpeming Michigan. The door that was opened in the Courthouse, which is in Marquette, Michigan, was the door to the men's restroom. The movie was filmed on location in Marquette County Michigan. See more »

Goofs

Lt. Manion and later Dr. Smith are shown arriving from Detroit on the Chicago and Northwestern Railway. Such a trip would have meant traveling via Chicago and changing trains (and stations). The trip, depending on connection times, would take well over two full days each way. See more »

Quotes

Paul Biegler: All right, the cat's out of the bag; it's fair game for me to chase it!
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Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Death Wish II (2016) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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