|Page 10 of 20:||               |
|Index||200 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Long time former DA, Paul Biegler(Jimmy Stewart, simply amazing)is told
by his buddy, Parnell(Arthur O'Connel, simply wonderful as the boozer
trying to keep sober because of the privilege of being asked by Paul to
partner up with him)to take a case concerning the murder of an Inn bar
owner, Barney Quill. The one responsible, Army man Lt. Frederick
Manion(Ben Gazzara)says he had couldn't control the impulse to kill
Quill who had just a while before abused and raped his wife Laura(the
lovely Lee Remick).
Laura's character will be questioned and we do see she can be a flirter(mainly the way she behaves toward Paul). We also see that nasty streak that rises in Manion when someone seems to be offering lusty remarks or other ways of behavior toward his wife. These actions will leave opposing questions in the viewers mind to whether they are honest with Paul or holding back certain truths.
Parn does some nosing around and finds out something regarding Mary Pilant(Kathryn Grant), a certain young woman Quill brought down from Ontario, Canada. Quill's bartender, Al(Murray Hamilton), knows certain things about the possible rape that could also hold a key to the guilt or innocence of Manion(..and how Laura might behave when loaded a bit with drink).
Paul's opposing prosecution is two cunning lawyers who really give him one whale of a time during the trial. Asst. State Atty Gen. Dancer(George C Scott..his moments opposite Stewart are magic)will assist newly appointed DA, Mitch Lodwick(Brooks West, who shows his weariness of battle with Paul in that courtroom which can often wring sweat from any brow), who beat Paul soundly for his position.
Outstanding courtroom drama..the best of it's kind. Eve Arden produces wonderful chemistry with Stewart and O'Connel, as Maida, Paul's secretary who hasn't received a check in some time, but stays pat with him hoping this case will bring them some kind of monetary gain. Joseph Welch is inspired casting(a real judge who brought down Joseph McCarthy)as Judge Weaver, the one man who exasperatingly tries to control his courtroom which can often turn into a circus with heated fireworks as both sides' attorneys duel.
The film was quite controversial at the time for it's adult content along with specifics regarding taboo subjects at that time.
Otto Preminger's film-version of John D. Voelker's book is perhaps the ultimate cinematic courtroom showdown, one which has little to do with the actual case of an Army soldier on trial for killing his wife's alleged rapist. James Stewart (as the small town defense attorney) and George C. Scott (as the high-powered big city prosecutor) lock horns in fabulous fashion as the details of the crime (along with the courtroom witnesses) are intricately placed and played out with masterful aplomb. The married couple at the center of the storm (Ben Gazzara and Lee Remick) never elicit anything more than superficial interest, however real-life judge Joseph N. Welch (who became something of a TV celebrity after grilling Joseph McCarthy on the air) is perfect as Judge Weaver, and the supporting cast (including Eve Arden as a secretary and Arthur O'Connell as a tippling lawyer who hasn't had a great day in court in years) superbly compliment each other and the male leads. Stewart and Scott both do Oscar-worthy work. ***1/2 from ****
Television shows like "CSI" exist today because books and films like
"Anatomy of a Murder" existed first.
"Murder" was somewhat different from courtroom thrillers that had come before it, because it focused almost exclusively on dissecting the forensic evidence (much of it quite graphic and frank for its time) that the two sides use to build their cases, and less on the attorney histrionics and impassioned speeches that comprise most movies set in courtrooms.
The film casts that benevolent everyman James Stewart as an attorney charged with defending a man (Ben Gazarra) accused of murder, who in turn claims that the murder was an act brought about by temporary insanity over the rape of his wife (a sultry Lee Remick). Stewart's benign presence no doubt helped audiences at the time to more easily navigate the rough waters of this film's language and mental images. I don't know that a major Hollywood film before this had addressed the subject of rape so candidly. It's no surprise that Otto Preminger, that most provocative of provocative directors, helmed this one.
George C. Scott has a lot of fun with his role as the cocky, snarky prosecuting attorney. He brings a predatory, menacing edge to the film, an edge enhanced by stark black and white photography and a jazzy score.
In the end, whether or not Stewart wins his case is beside the point; in this film, the ride is more important than the destination.
After recently serving on a jury for the first time, I found the movie more interesting than I may have other wise. I enjoy old movies and this was a classic. Great casting and lots of familiar faces. Even at the end of the movie you are left still pondering "Who Done It?" We know what the juries verdict was, but through it all I was not convinced that they had made the right decision. We must remember that this is an older movie and put ourselves back in time to appreciate the courtroom drama. Those who pick this movie apart probably are not classic movie lovers and should probably stick to the newer movies. I personally liked the movie music score and think it added to the time period of the piece. I do think we are conditioned by the current movies to always expect a twist to the plot, and this was just a straight forward court drama, with no twists. Great viewing for a classic movie buff.
Long but engrossing drama about a man (Gazzara) accused of murdering the man who raped his wife (Remick). Enter lawyer Stewart to defend the accused. Stewart is in top form as the easy-going, folksy lawyer although the film created a stir in its time because the wholesome Stewart was talking about panties. Remick is alluring as the owner of the said panties, a somewhat shady woman who seems to be hiding something. The fine cast includes O'Connell as Stewart's alcoholic assistant, Arden as his secretary, and Scott as the prosecuting attorney. The jazzy score by Duke Ellington creates the right mood. Along with "Laura," this is Preminger's best.
This is one of the best courtroom dramas ever filmed, and one of Jimmy
Stewart's best performances, including some jazz piano work with Duke
Ellington's band. The most dramatic moment of the movie, involving
George C Scott, illustrates that classic "lawyer's rule": don't ask a
witness a question unless you KNOW the answer already. George's
character gets a big surprise when he asks Mary Pilant "What was Barney
Quill to you?" Interestingly, there was a somewhat different
relationship between Mary Pilant and Barney Quill in the book. Also in
the book, a key article of clothing does not figure in the same way it
does in the movie. All in all, IMO, the movie is better than the book
it was based on. All changes were improvements in plot and dramatic
Another highlight of this movie is the performance by real-life attorney and judge Joseph N Welch as Judge Weaver. No stranger to drama in real life, Welch was the one who had berated Sen Joseph McCarthy earlier in the 50s with the question "Have you no sense of decency, sir?"
Joseph Welch, and actual Judge, who plays the role of Judge Weaver in
the film, brought a level of realism and humor to the courtroom scenes
that I have not seen in any other films. In the real world, Judges are
in essence the police of the courtroom, there to make sure everyone
follows the rules, leaving the decision of guilt or innocence to the
jury. There is a reason why even court TV condenses the court coverage
to short snippets, courtrooms are generally very boring, and overcome
by process and rules. In this film, Welch brings enough of this
process, some very dry wit, and balance to what would otherwise be
material not suitable for a film.
On top of the excellent courtroom sequences, Jimmy Stewart, Ben Gazzara and the larger than life George C. Scott, combine to keep this film powerfully entertaining.
I highly recommend this film for the excellent acting, interesting dialogue, a precocious, young, sexy Lee Remick. Don't listen to the nay sayers, this one is a solid classic.
(There are Spoilers) The 1958 best selling crime novel gets the star
treatment in the Otto Preminger directed block buster "Anatomy of a
Murder" that besides having James Stewart playing the lead role as
ex-Iron City district attorney Paul Biegler the movie has that really
wild and jazzy soundtrack that grabs you as soon as the opening credits
start to roll down the screen by Duke Ellington and his band. Being
retired from the courts since he was defeated as Iron City's D.A Paul
Bieglar has been looking to get back practicing law and finally sees a
case, and client, he'd like to represent. Paul represents US Army
Let.Frederick Manion,Ben Gazzara, Manion murder case in the murder of
local Thunder Bay Inn owner Barney Quill whom Lt. Manion shot five
Talking to Lt. Manion's wife Laura, Lee Remick, Paul finds out that she was raped by Barney the night Lt.Manion shot and killed him which give him an opening for a temporary insanity defense for his client Lt. Manion.Paul by having his friend and old time country lawyer Parrnell McCarthy, Arthur O'Connell, help him out in doing the leg work on the case turned out to be the best thing he could have come up with in getting Let. Manion off. It looked at first that Paul was going to lose the murder case with all the evidence staked against Lt. Manion.
Old man Parnell, against Paul's wishes, nursing a bottle of bourbon drives all the way up north across the USA Michian/Canadian border almost getting himself killed in a car crash to get some very important information that in the end will break the trial wide open and totally dismiss the very solid and almost air-tight case that the prosecution had against Let. Marion.
Trying to get Let. Marion to cooperate was somewhat difficult for Paul with his very negative and defeatist attitude toward himself and the civilian courts, this guy was GI Joe all the way. Lt. Marion's hair-trigger temper didn't help him either in him almost strangling one of his fellow convicts Duke Miller (Don Ross), who would later be called by the prosecution to testify in it's behalf, for making snide remarks about his very sexy wife Laura.
Lt. Manion wife's Laura was also anything but cooperative with Paul spending all her nights in bars being picked up, or picking up, men and getting drunk made her look anything but the innocent rape victim that she claimed to be that lead to her husband ending up behind bars for first-degree murder for killing her alleged rapist Barney Quill.
By far the best parts of the movie "Anatomy of a Murder" are the ones in the courtroom with both Paul and Asst. D.A Claude Dancer, George C. Scott,skillfully sparring with each other over the facts and evidence in the case. With the case against Let. Manion hanging on the very slim facts, that Paul was desperately trying to prove, that he wasn't in full control of his mental faculties at the time of the shooting and also, what looked like prosecutor Dancer's ace in the hole where Dancer was scoring his biggest points, that Mrs. Manion wasn't all that forthcoming about her husbands violent temper and that it was Let. Manion, not the alleged rapist Barney Quill, who was responsible for the marks and bruises on her face and body. The trial finally came down to the lost panties that Lara Manion claimed that Quill ripped off her during his sexual assault.
With the very aggressive and no holds bars, and take no prisoners, Dancer sees an opening when Paul brought in the waitress Mary Pilant, Kathryn Grant, of the late Barney Quill's Thunder Bay Inn as a surprise witness. Dancer smelling blood, mistaking just what her relationship to Barney Quill really was, quickly came in for the kill not realizing that he was falling right into a trap that Paul set for him. In a dramatic theatrical-like show of righteous indignation, against the beleaguered Mary Pilant, Dancer got the surprise of his life getting clobbered so hard between the eyes that he just slowly and embarrassingly slinked, like the snake in the grass that he is, away hoping that everyone in the courtroom, especially the jury, would forget what a complete fool he just made of himself.
Also in the cast is the late Judge Joseph N. Welch as the presiding , what else, judge in the case Judge Weaver. Welch the real life hero of the 1954 Army/McCarthy Hearings really was enjoying himself playing more or less himself with some of the funniest and note-worthy, in regards to the law, lines in the entire movie.
Director Otto Preminger had his hands full with such a large ensemble cast of notable actors fro this film. Jimmy Stewart stars in his fifth and final Academy Award nominated performance as a defense attorney defending a man accused of killing a tavern owner who he believed to have raped his wife. Ben Garzara is the man accused and Lee Remick is his wife. George C. Scott is the prosecuting attorney in his Academy Award nominated performance. Arthur O'Connell as an alcoholic attorney was also nominated along with Scott for Best Supporting Actor. rounding out the cast are Eve Arden, Kathryn Grant, Orson Bean, Brooks West, Murray Hamilton and Duke Ellington who also scored the film's music. This film was also nominated for cinematography for Sam Leavitt and Editing for Louis Leffler who both had worked on films before with Preminger. It was also nominated for it's screenplay by Wendell Myers and for the big Oscar for Best Picture of 1959. It lost in all seven of it's nominations and lost out to the Epic Ben Hur in five of the categories it was nominated in. Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker who wrote under the pen name of Robert Traver wrote the successful novel that this film is adapted from. Volker had been a prosecuting attorney in Marquette County in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where this was filmed on location. The story is based on a true murder story that took place in the area in 1952. At 160 minutes this runs a little long and the screenplay could have been trimmed and tightened to two hours but this is a good courtroom drama and I would give it an 8.5 out of 10.
The most enjoyable of all courtroom melodramas and one of Preminger's
very best films. "Anatomy of a Murder" has a sleazy, trashy pulpiness
from start to finish; it's morally ambiguous and all the better for it.
It's full of sly jokes and delights in shocking us, not by the mention
of panties and sperm, which proved controversial on it's release, but
in having A-list actors such as James Stewart mouthing these potential
Stewart is superb as a small-town lawyer taking on a murder case he doesn't appear to have a hope of winning. A hot-headed young lieutenant has coolly blown away the man his wife said raped her. As this troublesome couple Ben Gazzara and Lee Remick exude a natural sexiness and both display a comic edge their later work lacked. Indeed the whole cast, including newcomer George C Scott, are first-rate and the inclusion of real-life lawyer Joseph N Welch as the judge anchors the film in a believably legalistic world. The brilliant black-and-white photography is by Sam Leavitt and Duke Ellington composed the excellent jazz score.
|Page 10 of 20:||               |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||External reviews||Parents Guide|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|