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Anatomy of a Murder
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Anatomy of a Murder More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's well-paced, well-acted, and the explicit language was warranted within the context of the film.

Author: G K from Mars
26 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to address sex and rape in graphic terms. It includes one of Saul Bass's most celebrated title sequences, an innovative musical score by Duke Ellington and has been described by a law professor as "probably the finest pure trial movie ever made". A small-town lawyer (James Stewart) successfully defends an army officer (Ben Gazzara) accused of murdering a bartender who had assaulted his wife.

Anatomy Of A Murder is an overlong and over-faithful version of a highly detailed courtroom bestseller. The plot is necessarily equivocal, the characterization is overblown, but the trial commands some interest. It was George C. Scott's first notable role, as the prosecutor, and his scenes with Stewart, a totally different kind of actor, are hugely compelling.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Courtroom Drama can't get any better

Author: harjotsandhu from India
30 June 2011

I watched "witness for the prosecution" out of the blue and was instantly hooked to courtroom dramas. So I tried to dig up the best courtroom drama movies. I consulted a few lists and am I glad I did. I found four movies that are generally accepted by all. Anatomy of a murder was one of them; other three being, witness for the prosecution, to kill a mocking bird and Michael Clayton.

James Stewart has done a great job on the portrayal of the "humble country lawyer". The character become so alive that they make you want to be one of them. George Scott has done a wonderful job as Asst. State Attorney General Claude Dancer. He is bang on the target as the shrewd lawyer who knows how to skirmish around in the courtroom.

If you love to talk, argue and everything; then this genre is for you and the movie is the best start. It makes witness for the prosecution look pale at times with the tension in the environment at times.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Greatness and nicely flawed

Author: rmrgmm from United States
18 June 2011

The wonderful earthy, gritty, black-and-white photography only adds to the natural feel of this film. The Ellington score's contribution cannot be overestimated. The acting is so consistently good and natural - beyond the scope of consistency of most films - that it becomes totally compelling and demands many viewings. The biggest and most notable fault is Preminger's typical carelessness as far as filming equipment and personnel appearing in the film - compare to his "In Harm's Way" for example, where there are shadows, stills, reflections of crew and equipment in the film. This is also evident in this film, and one has to either reject or accept the director's faults in view of the total effect. There are so many moments of visual detail and stunningly subdued acting that it seems hard not to place this as one of the great - and happily not grand - films of all time.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Anatomy of a Trial

Author: princebansal1982 from India
22 May 2011

Anatomy of a Murder is a court room drama. I loved it, but I loved it more for the characters rather the story. While the plot is very good the characters are what hooked me in.

Characters of the main protagonist, his friend, his secretary and the judge had little quirks that made them come alive. Whether it was "Arty of Irst Art" or "That's a great help. Mr. Dancer?", there were some memorable quotes. All of this somehow made the characters seem very real as opposed to caricatures as these type of characters are in most films.

When you see a court room drama revolving around a murder defense, you rarely expect humor or quirkiness but that is what made this movie special for me. All the actors did a wonderful job particularly James Stewart.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Good Courtroom Drama, But Far From the Best

Author: gavin6942 from United States
13 April 2011

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? This movie was directed Otto Preminger, perhaps best known up to this point for the film "Laura". Perhaps not coincidentally, a lead character here is also named Laura -- assault victim Laura Manion.

With a cast like James Stewart, Ben Gazzara and George C. Scott with music by Duke Ellington, you would have to go out of your way to screw this up. Gazzara is probably better known today as the villain from either "Road House" or "The Big Lebowski", but he has a long career and many hits. This is one of them.

strikes me as a graphic description of rape for the time. Not as bad as today's salacious films, but still sexually prurient and most likely tantalizing to the maliciously deviant. I also found out that most French words are "suggestive", apparently, and I would be curious to know what the term for panties is that the film neglected to share.

They bring in an "irresistible impulse" defense from an 1886 court decision of the Michigan Supreme Court. Is it real? And can the prosecution bring in a witness that the defense was not aware of? And it seems the defense and prosecution are calling witnesses in no real order... I am not an attorney, but this seems wrong in certain ways. Though, I do love the judge intently!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Centre court drama...

Author: jc-osms from United Kingdom
31 March 2011

Thoroughly engrossing courtroom drama, famous as much for its adult subject matter and use of "dirty" language as anything else. It has some casting faults but equally there is some memorable playing, especially in the artifice-free courtroom finale played out over several tense minutes.

Let's deal with the subject matter and language issues. It must have come as a shock to middle and upper-class Americans at the end of Eisenhower's second term to be faced with a film which examines in some, if not gory detail, the possible rape of a, let's be generous, flighty but pretty young wife of a Korean War vet who, after the alleged act, cold-bloodedly shoots down the so-called perpetrator out of revenge, jealousy or was it temporary madness. No stranger to controversy, Otto Preminger pushes the envelope all the way home here, making an epochal film on the cusp of the permissive 60's, dragging America into the modern world. Hitchcock, another well-known agent-provocateur perhaps following the lead here, would take it further next year by showing Janet Leigh in her bra, taking part in a clandestine affair. As for the use of everyday vernacular in employing strong terminology for the time, with words like bitch, sperm, rape and of course panties, while they're obviously inserted for shock value, they nevertheless ground the film in realism even if the last of them is probably over-used.

Some of the characterisations, I felt, worked, some didn't. James Stewart sees it through gamely but I sense a mis-casting and why he has to be saddled with a clichéd drunken Dr Watson-type as his assistant, I don't know. Better are the performances of a young George C Scott and Lee Remick as the slimy prosecutor and floozy housewife respectively, their climactic exchanges being absolutely electric, while there's a performance of great subtlety and nuance by Joseph N Welch as the fair-minded judge.

So did the trailer park trash-couple get away with it? Preminger leaves that open and bravely eschews the use of flashback to give us no easy answers. The film's at its best in the court scenes, less so in its depiction of small-town Americana but I was certainly gripped by the last 45 minutes in particular and will give it more than the benefit of the doubt in that regard.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Great story, packed with great performances, plus a super score

Author: bob-790-196018 from United States
6 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Who knew you could find Duke Ellington appearing in a saloon in the upper peninsula of Michigan? His score for the film was wonderful. Just in case you were expecting the law office of James Stewart, Arthur O'Connell, and Eve Arden to consist of hicks from the sticks, Duke Ellington's score reminds us otherwise. The quintessence of sophistication, Ellington gives us a score that perfectly suits Stewart's small town lawyer, who turns out to be sharp, knowing, and tough.

And it perfectly suits a story that is about the rape of a woman who (in one critic's phrasing) "would flirt with a fire hydrant," her husband, a defendant who is perfectly capable of beating her, and the woman's missing panties, not something that is normally talked about in 1950s movies, let alone as often as they are in this picture.

Once again James Stewart makes acting look so easy that one may well overlook the fact that he was a truly fine actor--subtle yet commanding, familiar to all as a screen persona yet resourceful and versatile.

George C. Scott gives new meaning to the words "slick," "cynical," and even "despicable." Ben Gazzara and Lee Remick are both fully credible, and in the end, when Gazzara is acquitted, we know that neither person deserves our sympathy. The triumph goes to Stewart's character and his colleagues, played by two wonderful character actors,Arthur O'Connell, and Eve Arden.

It's a really great courtroom drama that stands up well 50 years later.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Vivekmaru45 from Kenya
15 February 2011

The Late James(Jimmy) Stewart puts on a powerful performance in what I think is his best film to date.

The director of the film, Otto Preminger, is in complete control of all the aspects of the film from the introduction of the main characters in the film and the eventual courtroom drama.

Small-town lawyer Paul Biegler (James Stewart), a former district attorney, lands a case that involves the defense of US Army Lieutenant Manny Manion, who killed Quill, the alleged rapist of his wife Laura.

Even with such a motivation, it would be difficult to get Manion cleared of murder, so Biegler pushes him into a position where he claims to have no memory of the event, thus giving them a chance of winning his freedom with a defense of irresistible impulse — a version of a temporary insanity defense.

As he sets about preparing his case, Biegler catches Laura Manion flirting with other army officers during a roadhouse party. He has to practically order her to stay away from "men, juke joints, booze, and pinball machines" and wear a girdle in order to play the part of a "meek little housewife" rather than that of a happy-go-lucky party girl. She also agrees to give up her tight-fitting clothes and wears a formal dress, glasses, a hat and a woman's suit in court.

Biegler's folksy speech and laid-back demeanor hides a sharp legal mind and a propensity for courtroom theatrics that has the judge busy keeping things under control. However, the case for the defense does not go well, especially since the local D.A. (Brooks West) is assisted by a high-powered big city prosecutor named Dancer (George C. Scott). Furthermore, the prosecution goes all the way to block any mention of Manion's motive for killing Quill, i.e. the raping of Laura. Biegler eventually manages to get the rape issue into the record and Judge Weaver (Joseph N. Welch) agrees to allow the matter to be part of the deliberations. However, Dancer's cross-examination of Laura effectively portrays her as a woman who was not satisfied with her marriage and openly flirted with other men, including the one she claimed raped her.

What happens next in the courtroom is for you to find out.

As a proud owner of this DVD, I highly recommend this film to you, as it will keep you glued to your seats till the end.

Score: 10/10. A timeless masterpiece by a master director.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Best court room drama I know

Author: esie-1 from Netherlands
4 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story of Anatomy of a murder is based on a real-life murder trial, that was written up in a book by the defense lawyer. The book then became the basis of the script for the movie.

It is a gripping story, it held me glued to my TV for the entire length of the film. It combines the suspense of a whodunit with the authenticity of a documentary. The movie was shot entirely on location where the actual murder and trial took place, including the inn and the courtroom.

On reflection it is also a most disturbing movie, at least for this foreigner. It ruthlessly exposes the cynicism of the prosecution who from the very start of the investigation was more concerned about winning the case than establishing what truly happened. All the initial investigations that were meant to benefit the DA, the obstruction to admit the aspect of the rape in the trial, the "hot shot" from Lansing whose expertise seemed to be character assassination rather than some legal aspect, down to the "witness" Miller who makes a sudden appearance at the very end.

Luckily the defense is led by a former prosecutor who knows all the tricks in the book (and may have applied them himself in his time). Makes you wonder why the judge was played by Joseph Welch, the national hero who a few years earlier brought down senator Joe McCarthy.

Apparently the movie didn't go down well with the public back then and I think that has everything to do with the picture it paints of the practice of a criminal prosecution. Forget about the panties.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Sensational courtroom drama in a small town.

Author: Michael O'Keefe from Muskogee OK
8 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

ANATOMY OF A MURDER can easily be mistaken for a Hitchcock movie; but it is Otto Preminger directing James Stewart as Paul Biegler, a small-town country lawyer that is hired to defend Lt. Frederick Manion(Ben Gazzara), a moody young officer charged of murdering a local barkeep that raped his flirty wife(Lee Remick). Biegler employs a temporary insanity defense hoping to outmaneuver a high profile prosecuting attorney Claude Dancer(George C. Scott). The courtroom scenes provide a realistic atmosphere and the supporting cast is top notch: Arthur O'Connell, Eve Arden, Murray Hamilton, John Qualen, Kathryn Grant, Howard McNear, Orson Bean and the music legend Duke Ellington makes a guest appearance. Stewart shows the top of his skills and Remick is smoldering hot.

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