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|Index||200 reviews in total|
I went into this movie expecting another good movie by the standards of
its time, but I was gladly mistaken. Anatomy of a Murder can be
considered very good even among today's standards.
Jimmy Stewart plays one of his best roles in this movie, and probably the best that I've seen so far. He plays a country-boy defense attorney that is hired to defend a husband who killed the man that raped his wife. His character feels, at times, like Travolta's character in A Civil Action, and at others, it feels like Damon's character in The Rainmaker. Very well done and a very complete performance.
The execution of this movie was just about spot-on, but aside from Jimmy Stewart, most of the cast only delivers an average performance. The comical lines are delivered in such a way that they are actually FUNNY; unlike a lot of the movies from that time.
I give it a 9/10, if for no other reason than the court scene where George C. Scott keeps blocking Stewart's view of his witness (very, very funny).
If you like courtroom dramas, don't miss this!
One of Otto Preminger's better attempts at corruption and the American
way. James Stewart is his usual honest American, George C. Scott is
frightening as Claude Dancer, Ben Gazzara is scary as husband, and Lee
Remick was never more beautiful. Arthur O'Connell is his usual bumbling
sidekick and Eve Arden is quite the wise-cracker.
An 8 out of 10. Best performance = George C. Scott. One of the better films of 1959 with great courtroom scenes. Lee Remick should have played more characters like this one (as she did in THE LONG HOT SUMMER) instead of the prudes she later portrayed. She was great in DAYS OF WINE & ROSES and A FACE IN THE CROWD (her debut). This film is worth a visit!
I happened upon the movie one night on TV. Quite a shocking subject
considering the time it was made. I would recommend the book (if you
could find it). Jimmy Stewart did a good job in portraying Mr Biegler.
Lee Remick as well. Ben Gazarra was a bit wooden. The book and the
movie really revolve around his working of a court case (the defendant
murdered the man who raped his wife) and is not your typical "Law and
Order" plot but rather a good look at how an attorney builds a case.
There is a big departure from the novel (Hollywood does this sometimes
Overall, I would recommend the movie, if not only to see what was considered very risqué. Time have sure changed.
The acting is superb, the characters carrying such verisimilitude that you may literally think you are watching a real life drama unfold. (Oddly, the least convincing character in the movie is that of Judge Weaver played by Joseph Welch, the real life attorney who represented the Army during the Army-McCarthy hearings.) And like real life the plot issues are subtle. It's totally satisfying as a courtroom drama while at the same time the final outcome leaves one with something to think about, which is in itself pretty unusual. It's a movie about people and about the law, each as they really are. Highly entertaining and recommended. The jazzy musical score is by Duke Ellington, who makes a cameo appearance.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this film is seeing old-timer James
Stewart sparring in the courtroom with young blood George C Scott. They are
terrific together - the other stars are Eve Arden, Ben Gazarra, and Lee
Remick, who are all pretty good.
The film was directed by Otto Preminger at the height of his powers, breaking taboos (the first instance of the word 'panties' being used?)and boasted not only a fine performance from Stewart, and a scorching debut from Scott, but also a great soundtrack throughout from Duke Ellington. The story - did a murdered man rape a woman and so deserve his fate? - leads into a fine courtroom scenario, while Arden provides yet another good wisecracking cynic as decoration.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Indeed this is a typical "court movie" but much better than all the scenes that can be seen in nowadays movies. There is no useless emphasis from the lawyer or the judge. We get the whole view of a trial in the USA from the beginning to the end. That point is very interesting. The duel between James Stewart and the other lawyer turns really into a man-to-man fight in order to discover the truth. But the most surprising comes at the end. What a rude world !
This movie gets considerable mileage out of the much-used plotline: smart country bumpkin outwits smug city slicker. James Stewart is a semi-retired country lawyer who agrees to defend an army lieutenant who has murdered a local bar owner who allegedly raped his wife, a sexy, flirtatious party-girl. The local DA is aided by a smooth attorney from a nearby city. It is the chemistry between this tough, intelligent outsider (George C. Scott) and the shrewd, cynical local defense attorney (Stewart) that gives the courtroom scenes much of their tension. Unfortunately, some of that tension is neutralized by the perverse decision to cast a real lawyer, Joseph Welch, as the judge. His wooden, by-the-numbers non-performance is no asset and suggests that Otto Preminger was more interested in "making a statement" than making art. Otherwise, a strong cast does its part to put the twisty plot across. The Duke Ellington score is sometimes effective, sometimes distracting. Good movie scores should be heard but not perceived; Ellington's sometimes invites too much attention to itself
Somehow, despite the fact that there's little of the salacious nature of the
screenplay leftover while watching this courtroom drama from the 1950's in
the new century, it holds up quite nicely. I suspect that the main reasons
reside in the outstanding performances which Otto Preminger coaxed out of
all involved. Jimmy Stewart is his usual self (read - great and
understated). George C Scott nearly steals the movie with his second half
prosecutor, unbelieving in the face of the defensive strategies. And the
lesser known faces hold their own (Lee Remick and Ben Gazarra are both quite
The plot seems relatively straightforward to those of us weaned on courtroom dramas and daytime judges, but that's almost a relief.
Overall, a 9 out of 10. Check 'er out.
In northern Michigan an army officer (Ben Gazzara) kills a man who had raped his wife. A local lawyer (James Stewart) is retained for the defence and attempts to find the truth and gain an acquittal. Naturally nothing (and no-one) is quite what he (or she) seems. Stewart gives a studied performance in his familiar smarter-than-he-looks mode, clashing with George C Scott's silkily unpleasant big town legal eagle. Shot in gritty black and white, with a superb jazz score by Duke Ellington (who briefly appears) this film was realistic, even shocking (for it's time), with references to ladies underwear and examinations of the rape in court. The characters are finely drawn, especially Lee Remick's flirtatious Laura, and the sub-plot about Stewart's alcoholic assistant kept to a minimum. Despite it's length the film never fails to grip, and there's even a twist at the end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie is a true statement to the world of yeteryear. It is also true in
the world of today where a man stabs his wife 25 times, drowns her, puts
bloody clothes and weapon in a tupperware bowl into the tire well of his
car, and still blame it on sleepwalking. Where a person can dive 50 miles
or more, kill his mother-in-law, and come back, and be deemed innocent
because of sleepwalking. This is the type of world in which we live, and it
is the world of "Anatomy of a Murder."
*spoilers* While the movie does not use sleepwalking as a reason of innocence (what fiction writer could come up with that?), it uses the now-overused temporary insanity rule. He was crazy, so he killed his wife's rapist. But was she really raped? The doctor said no, and her husband seems insanely jealous. She is practically a town flirt. With methods outside, and some in, the courtroom which are still used in modern justice and fiction, the movie still seems fresh.
Some of the in courtroom methods may seem over-the-top, they are still around today. In the last Jeffrey Feiger case in Michigan, the lawyers traded insults regularly, and the judge even got into it. I've heard that people almost brought popcorn. But with the wisecracks from all of the lawyers, and the judge, the courtroom scenes are not that intense. But, how many scenes are like the "You can't handle the truth" revelation in "A Few Good Men" in real life?
Check out this movie simply for the courtroom banter, and the story and the issues, and the acting, and the score. Hell, the movie is almost perfect. My only complaint is that the first forty minutes could have been cut down a little. The rest of the movie is great as a courtroom drama/comedy. Check it out.
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