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|Index||195 reviews in total|
As far as i can tell, this film may have established the courtroom
'genre'. Not that it was the first film to feature a trial and the
courtroom, of course, but it was one of the first ones to make the
narrative dynamics develop around the story the lawyers can create out
of invented or manipulated facts. The funny things to observe in this
kind of court depictions, and cat and mice game between defenders and
prosecutors is how words, and the interpretation one makes of words,
and how words are thrown (this includes expressions, body and facial
ones) can completely change the reality of things. The film is, as the
title suggests, the dissection of an event we never get to see,
occurred in sets with which we are not so much in touch with. So we
have to visualize, and we do that through words and the opinion we form
of the characters (witnesses) we are allowed to see so in a way we are
at the same level of the jury. What's strong about this film, and why
it worked well to me, is that, even though we spend the film following
Stewart and the defense, we're never led to believe that we should
believe Gazzara's character or story. There are a lot of subtleties,
questions left open. Ultimately, the two theories exposed in court made
sense, but we really don't know which one (if any of them) is
true:-were the facial bruises of the wife made by the murdered or the
murderer? -were the panties really where found, or were they planted?
-did the wife ever betray the husband?... I enjoyed this ambiguity.
Sex was present throughout. I am young, and this is a good way to see how certain things were regarded than: sex and religion. The fuss over the use of the word 'panties' in the courtroom, of course, but also how the prosecutor tries to dismiss the wife by alleging her disregard towards her religion. How that could blow a case in the minds of the jury (and i suppose, the audience 50 years ago). We had two kind of screen female characters depicted: the flashy overtly sexy Lee Remick (whose character would go to a bar with bare naked legs!) and the introspective, closed and mysterious Kathryn Grant. As a screen character i am more interested in the second, as i saw the film i made the mental exercise of switching their parts, or at least, make Remick look more like Grant. I recommend you do that.
On purely visual/cinematic concerns, there are two things to point out here, pretty competent and which made the experience worthwhile, to me: one is how the camera moves: it inherited most of what Hitchcock had been making in previous years; including the beautiful 'Rope' and 'Rear window', both featuring Stewart; this means we have a seeking camera, a curious camera which in this case is worried more with characters than with space, even though space usually unfolds as a consequence of what characters do. This is pretty competent, and had been done with a very high level 2 years before, with Lumet's '12 angry men'. I think here we have a mid term between Hitchcock and Lumet's attitude. It's less consequent, not original, but still a pretty competent camera work. The other thing is jazz. Ellington, who even does a cameo playing with his band. Stewart's characters plays the piano also, and the virtuous beat of the Duke really does it. It's a cinematic glue, something that carries the films, as much as the inflated performance by Stewart or our inner questions regarding the veracity of the case we're being exposed.
My opinion: 4/5
One night in 1959, Laura Manion (Lee Remick) returns home and tells her husband that she's been raped. Enraged, he husband grabs a gun and kills the man she accused of the crime. When arrested, Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara) claims that he didn't remember any of it, but nobody really believes his story. His wife turns to a relatively unknown country lawyer for help, and after meeting with the Manion's, Paul Biegler (Jimmy Stewart) agrees to take the case. It's never clear whether or not even he believes his client's story, but either way, Biegler is determined to get the man exonerated. Many law professors consider this film to be the most accurate depiction of a trial ever fictionalized on film. Likewise, the Academy was also very impressed, giving Anatomy of A Murder seven Oscar nominations, but does the film really stand the test of time? For 1959, the Manion's were as promiscuous and dysfunctional a couple as could be on film, however in 2015, they are rather tame. That's not the only thing that gets lost in time, as the laws surrounding the insanity defense have also changed, making the whole premise around this trial more than somewhat outdated. This film simply doesn't have the impact in 2015, that it did in 1959, but that doesn't mean it's not entertaining. Jimmy Stewart stars as Defense Attorney, Paul Biegler, who unfortunately isn't the most interesting man in the world. He's a very bland character, without much depth, but he is an intelligent lawyer, who finds every trick and loophole in the book to defend his client. Jimmy Stewart was a tall lanky man with a strange voice, who I thought was a natural when it came to physical comedy, but Stewart preferred to play a more intelligent character, especially later in his career, and Paul Biegler is a textbook example of that. Anatomy of A Murder is on almost every top 100 list you can find, and in it's time it absolutely belonged there, but by 2015 standards, it's very long, tame, and outdated, despite the excellent story and depiction of a courtroom.
Renowned film-noir director Otto Preminger tackles courtroom dramas in "Anatomy of a Murder." Paul Biegler (James Stewart) is a lawyer who mostly just wants to fish and play jazz. Though when a case involving the rape of a soldier's wife that lead to a murder comes his way, Biegler reluctantly steps out to help them make a difficult case for temporary insanity. "Anatomy of a Murder" takes a bit to actually get started with a few predictable moments in the first act but is saved by a solid performance by Stewart and a great soundtrack. Though once in the courthouse the film becomes interesting, suspenseful and even occasionally funny. There are a few unanswered questions near the end but thanks to a good cast and a relatively good plot "Anatomy of a Murder" holds up.
Anatomy of a Murder-****-A Masterpiece- Directed by: Otto Preminger,
Written by: Wendell Mayes, Robert Traver (Novel), Starring: James
Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O'Connell, Eve Arden, Kathryn
Grant, George C. Scott, Orson Bean, Murray Hamilton.
Otto Preminger's challenging and provocative courtroom drama stars Stewart as a defense lawyer defending a man (Gazzara) who murdered another man after his wife accused the victim of raping her. Complications are soon to develop in the courtroom as Stewart faces his attraction to his client's wife, a fierce prosecutor, and a layed-back judge.
What Preminger has crafted is a potent piece of entertainment and a multi-layered story from Traver's novel enhanced by strong performances. Stewart gives another fine effort as the lead character, who anchors our attention throughout. Scott and Gazzara are also great in early efforts, but it is real life judge Welch who gives the film the authenticity and credibility it desires.
Preminger's storytelling is long, but thought-provoking and fascinating, with more insight into the murder trial than most courtroom dramas boast. Duke Ellington takes a rare job in the music department and scores a hit with his jazz score, however it is the performances that give this film the power it possesses.
The movie's happens in a small city during the late 1950's, where a
lieutenant kills a man for raping his wife and asks James Stewart in
the role of Paul Beigler, a lawyer, to defend him.
At first I didn't understand what was going on and that was for 10-15 mins maybe and then it became really interesting. I thought the story wasn't the greatest suspense ever, but the acting and the sequence of event kept it exciting.
The acting was really really good, thumbs up for James Stewart and Lee Remick (the raped wife). And I think I am falling in love with black and white movies, I am crazy about the lighting and use of shades. Although the movie is mostly set in the courtroom, the script of the trial is quite interesting, it keeps you wanting to know how will the prosecutor deal with the witnesses and what will happen next. It's simply a classic investigative movie, with a subtle sense of humor.
I also absolutely loved Lee Remick's fashion, this outgoing over the top (back then) clothes with high heels and the wavy hair, she is spectacular and is really pretty too.
You know what else was really interesting, it's the soundtracks, it old funky jazz, very cool, my favorite was actually the beginning with all the old cartoonish graphics, really enjoyable (a little pink panther kind of music).
Let's move to what I didn't like, I thought the movie is way too long 2:40! some scenes were kinda useless. I also wanted to leave the courtroom a little more and that's why I don't have a favorite scene. Also the ending is waaaaay too expected, it killed my buzz.
All in all it's a nice interesting movie, not sure how memorable it is, but it's exciting and funny. Would definitely recommend it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I seem to have a somewhat different take on this movie than many.
People are very hung up on the apparent moral ambiguity of the
characters and ultimately, the movie. But I don't think that's the main
point. This movie isn't really about whether or not the defendant is
actually guilty or innocent.
The movie is really *about* Jimmy Stewart's character, Pauly, the lawyer. The whole deal here is that he *used* to be the prosecutor, but got voted out, and has now become a defense lawyer who isn't trying very hard to be a defense lawyer. He has no clients or cases to speak of and doesn't really seem to care, spending most of his time fishing. His friend chides him for it, recognizing how hard it is for him to have been booted out like that, but that none-the-less he's got to get on with being a lawyer. A *defense* lawyer, not a prosecutor, with the key inherent difference: a prosecutor can afford to be moral, concerned only with guilt and innocence, whereas a defense lawyer has to provide the very best defense possible for his client, innocent or not. That's his job, and you can't make any bones about it. His friend has to remind Pauly about that after the first meeting with the defendant lieutenant.
And so, the *real* issue is not, was the guy guilty or not; the real issue is: can Pauly really step up to the plate as a good defense attorney, and win a case where he *does* have to fudge, does have to use courtroom shenanigans, does have to overlook the moral ambiguity of his client and his wife. In short, does have to go all out to win the acquittal of a man who he probably has his own doubts about. To tell *this* story, of course the people and the facts of the case *do* have to be rather ambiguous. But the ambiguity isn't the point of the story. The role of a defense lawyer is. (and any one of you who ever for any reason needs to *hire* a defense lawyer will be very glad of that).
So in the end, the importance of the jury's verdict is not on whether or not the Lt. goes free, but simply on whether or not Pauly won the case. Having won the case, he's shown himself that he can do it, and so he doesn't even care that much when he finds that his client in the end has skipped town and stiffed him. Because he's clearly ready to get down to really being a lawyer, rather than a fisherman with a legal shingle out front. Really, the guilt or innocence of the client is just this movie's MacGuffin. That doesn't mean that all these other issues aren't interesting and thought-provoking. They're simply not the point of the movie.
Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder features a cast of some big stars
(Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott), and some notable character players
(Ben Gazarra, Lee Remick, the underrated Murray Hamilton and Orson
Bean), but the real big attraction for audience's is its 100% absorbing
story and whole lot of characters (and, sometimes, those aforementioned
actors playing them). It might remind some younger viewers of Law &
Order, with it bearing a resemblance to Dick Wolf's show that is beat
for beat as its sole fixation on the Facts In The Case. But unlike L&O,
where any characterization is pretty much one-dimensional, Anatomy of a
Murder is chock-full of development on the personalities, even for
characters that appear on the witness stand for no more than five
Preminger also has the daring to add some touches of comedy, or at least some (for the time) risqué humor and language that rises it not simply above other more standard pictures, but into a realm of truth that reflects what it's like to be in a court-room for a case such as this (i.e. when the judge addresses the courtroom about the use of the word "panties", he's also addressing the audience- don't giggle, it's a serious word... even if you might giggle for it being almost self-conscious). The premise itself, 'the core' of it for lack of a better term as from what Stewart's lawyer uses at one point, is something out of vintage L&O: an ex army lieutenant (Gazarra) with a possible penchant for tempers and jealousy, kills a man who raped his wife one night driving her home from a bar. Guilty of the murder? Not quite, says Stewart's defense attorney and jazzman Biegler, who goes for the temporary insanity defense.
But past this premise, Preminger crafts a fascinating study of how character reflects everything during a trial, including (maybe even especially) that of the attorneys in question, who start to "provide the wisecracks" as the Judge says in deadpan. At first the case looks open and shut, but there's a lot more to it than meets the eye, and not just in the traditional form of a courtroom drama where there's a last-minute twist and some surprises in store for the jury and other attendees in the courtroom. And, sure, there is the former of those, but everything builds up not based solely on the facts, but on what is revealed, the underlying tension and anxiety for all parties involved. Stewart, of course, is up to task in one of his quintessential performances. But least not forget Gazarra in a role that should've nabbed him an Oscar, and for Remick who's Laura is both sultry and vulnerable. And who can't love seeing Hamilton (the mayor from Jaws) on the stand, or George C. Scott give a somewhat subdued portrayal that provides one of the slickest, most cunning prosecution parts in movies. He literally oozes his character's big-city gumption.
Chock-full of snappy dialog that doesn't feel like it's been written for the usual MOVIE crowds (i.e. it is still a movie, but there's a lot that doesn't feel forced or contrived), and scenes that deliver on shifting tones between comedy and melodrama on a dime, Anatomy of a Murder is a near masterpiece. It even goes so far as to appear to have a happy ending, and then give just the hint of ambiguity, or inasmuch that we as the audience, unlike the jury, can't be totally sure what the outcome really is. It has its cake and eats it too, all to one of the great jazz scores in cinema by Mr. Ellington.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
i've now seen this movie about half a dozen times,and still enjoy it immensely.James Stewart gives a fine performance as country lawyer Paul Biegler who uses every trick in the book(mostly legal)to outfox the city slickers.the story itself seems like something out of everyday life,with the usual vagaries among the various characters.yes,Lee Remick's character seems to be overblown at times,but even the prosecution mentions her attractiveness at one point.as with most of the other parties involved,she comes across as neither entirely good or bad,but simply human.this film is over 21/2 hours but even with the deliberate pacing it seems to fly by.the jazz score by Duke Ellington seemed out of place(although i liked it)and began a trend in seemingly serious films(e.g.In Cold Blood)there was much controversy upon it's release,probably about the frank sexual language,but also about it's somewhat cynical view of our legal system.of course this is all passé nowadays but doesn't really matter.this is a film whose weaknesses are easy to overlook because of the passionate performances from everyone.i find this one guilty by reason of inspiration.
This is a brilliant film from Preminger; however, wrongly qualified as a "mystery"; while in fact it is closer to film noir. You've got a case of supposed rape, a trailer-thrash slut of a wife, and a dark suave husband who couldn't be trusted. The wife, "raped and bruised" by a bartender she fooled around with, the jealous husband kills him in rage, and a naive lawyer takes upon his defense. The film doesn't keep you guessing too much - do not expect twists and turns. The pleasure is elsewhere. The music by Duke Ellington adds greatly to it; you will even see him appearing. And I just loved a final line (remember, "gentlemen drink gin"): "I knew there was something wrong with that guy. I've never met a gin drinker yet you could trust!". 10 out of 10.
This film is about sensational case tried in a rural courtroom. Robert Traver, real name John D. Voelker, had been a D.A. in an upper Michigan area populated by ethnic types such as Finns, Poles, etc. he wrote several popular books, "Small Town D.A.", "Laughing Whitefish", and this, his masterpiece. In this famous best seller he envisioned himself as Paul "Polly" Biegler, a man defeated for a political office and eager to try a sensational case. He is enjoying fishing with his old friend, but when an opportunity comes, he seizes it, after asking some penetrating questions. The case is peculiar because the man accused seems so calm, self-possessed; yet his defense has to be temporary insanity or impulsive loss-of-control. There is some evidence to suggest his wife is promiscuous, and that he, a man with a temper, might have been the one who damaged her before killing her sexual partner rather than the case being a rape. This is an old-style film, meaning highly-competent, movie narrative, complete with discoveries, insights, strong characters, interesting motivations and courtroom pyrotechnics. It is one of three Otto Preminger films that were shockers, by far the most successful. The difference here is the very fine cast. James Stewart was the attorney, Arthur O'Connell his skilled but alcoholic partner and Eve Arden his dynamic secretary. The opposition in the courtroom were Brooks West, Arden's husband in real life, and George C. Scott, in his first major role; the arrested man was Ben Gazzarra, his wife Lee Remick, the judge real-life jurist Joseph N. Welch. Also showing well in this powerful aggregation were Kathryn Grant, Orson Bean, Murray Hamilton, Howard McNear, Ken Lynch, Ross Brown, John Qualen, Irv Kucinet and Joseph Kearns. Technically, this B/W drama is first-rate all around, I suggest. With a script by Wendell Mayes that follows the novel closely, it boasted cinematography by Sam Leavitt and music borrowed from Duke Ellington who also appeared briefly; Boris Leven designed the stylish production; Howard Leven was the set dresser. The subject matter of the case was explicit for its time; so was the suggestion that Stewart took the case knowing his client was probably guilty and the incident perhaps not a rape at all. The language was unusual for its time; and the case's effect non the local area was magnified because the accused was a serving military officer. it has been suggested lee Remick is played against a pseudo-Christian standard, the one that was applied to Hollywood situations before the 1960s secretly; the rule was any woman that had or invited sexual relations outside of wedlock had to come to a bad end. Here the implication is that if Remick had not had sex with someone other than her husband, she wanted to do so. So the defense is as much of her rights to equal legal liberty with any male as about the truth of her assertion., at least in plot terms. The device of employing a "big city" type like Scott as Stanley Dancer brought in to oppose Biegler (Stewart) is an interesting one; we have spent time in the small town, so we resent his intrusion along with Stewart. the film is in no way dated; it is about a time when adults were a lot more intelligent, less cynical, and more confident their fellows' abilities to control themselves, male or female. The time of the film, 1959, made it a precedent-setting and very-often-copied sort of movie. it is long at 160 minutes but I suggest never flags and is never less than fascinating.
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