The part of the judge was offered to both Spencer Tracy and Burl Ives, but instead went to Joseph N. Welch who was a lawyer in real life who had represented the U.S. Army in the televised Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954.
The part played by Lee Remick was first offered to Lana Turner, who agreed to take it on the condition that she would wear gowns designed exclusively by her personal couturier, Jean Louis. When director Otto Preminger objected that such gowns were not suitable for the role, Turner turned down the part. Columbia was ready to give in to Turner's demands but Preminger resisted and gave the role to Remick, then almost a beginner.
Otto Preminger originally wanted Lee Remick for the part of Laura because he had been impressed with her debut in A Face in the Crowd (1957) and knew that she could play a young sultry woman (even though Remick was 8 months pregnant when Preminger approached her for the role). A few weeks later he called to tell her that he had given the part to Lana Turner and instead offered her a smaller role of Mary Pilant, but Remick boldly refused. On an especially hectic day when Remick received a call saying that she had the part of Laura, she thought it was a joke and hung up. It took another phone call to convince her that she truly did have the lead female role.
Otto Preminger sued Columbia Pictires and their TV subsidiary Screen Gems when they sold "Anatomy of a Murder" in a package of sixty films to television for ten million dollars. In New York, ABC interrupted the 160 minute film 13 times with 36 commercials. Preminger was furious that his film was being mutilated and took them to court in a highly publicized case, but lost.
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.
When Judge Weaver first introduces himself to the courtroom, he says he is "sitting in temporarily while your good judge Maitland is recovering from a severe illness." Maitland is James Stewart's middle name.
Along with Crimson Tide (1995), Independence Day (1996), and The Dark Knight (2008), this is one of only four films whose purely orchestral soundtracks won the Grammy Award for Best Score despite not being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
The murder took place at Thunder Bay Inn, on the south shore of Lake Superior. The movie came out 11 years before there was a city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the north shore. (Thunder Bay, Ont. was formed by the merger of Fort William and Port Arthur in 1970.)
The police car sitting in the parking lot of the jail, is a 1959 Edsel sedan. There is on record a few Edsels used by municipalities, but it was more common to find a Ford, Chevy, or Plymouth in use by law enforcement.