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Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | September 1959 (Austria)
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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?

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(screenplay), (based on the novel by) (as Robert Traver)
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4,235 ( 966)
Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Paul Biegler
... Laura Manion
... Lt. Frederick Manion
... Parnell Emmett McCarthy
... Maida Rutledge
... Mary Pilant
... Claude Dancer
... Dr. Matthew Smith
Russ Brown ... George Lemon
... Alphonse Paquette
... Dist. Atty. Mitch Lodwick
... Det. Sgt. James Durgo
... Deputy Sheriff Sulo
... Dr. Dompierre
... Dr. W. Gregory Harcourt
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Storyline

Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), a lieutenant in the army, is arrested for the murder of a bartender, Barney Quill. He claims, in his defense, that the victim had raped and beaten up his wife Laura (Lee Remick). Although Laura supports her husband's story, the police surgeon can find no evidence that she has been raped. Manion is defended by Paul Biegler (James Stewart), a humble small-town lawyer and recently deposed district attorney. During the course of interviews, Biegler discovers that Manion is violently possessive and jealous, and also that his wife has a reputation for flirting with other men. Biegler realizes that the prosecution will try to make the court believe that Laura had been drunk and was picked up by the bartender and then Her husband killed him and beat her up when he discovered they had been together. Manion pleads "not guilty" and Biegler, who knows that his case is weak, tries to find evidence that will save Manion. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Last year's No.1 best-seller ... This year's No.1 motion picture. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

September 1959 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Anatomie eines Mordes  »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$11,900,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Daly replaced Pat Hingle in the role of Mitch Lodwick after Hingle was injured in a fall down an elevator shaft. Daly then left the production to appear in a Broadway play and was replaced by Brooks West, the husband of Eve Arden, who appeared as Maida Rutledge in the film. See more »

Goofs

When Biegler returns to his house at the start of the film, McCarthy points to the United States Supreme Court reports and asks if they should read "a little Chief Justice Holmes", and Biegler also refers to "Chief Justice Holmes". Oliver Wendell Holmes was an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, never Chief Justice. (He was, however, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachussetts before being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.) See more »

Quotes

Paul Biegler: You're fired.
Maida Rutledge: You can't fire me until you pay me.
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Connections

Featured in Pulp Cinema (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

Classy courtroom drama that trades on it's cynical edge
25 March 2002 | by See all my reviews

Lawyer Paul Biegler takes the case of Lt. Manion who killed a man after he discovered he had raped his wife, Laura. Biegler realises that the cards are not all in his favour and begins to ensure that the facts are spun in his favour as much as possible during the trial.

This film caused a stir back when it was released – supposedly over the dialogue that contained words not used before in a motion picture. However it was more likely that the furore was over the cynical view of the legal profession that the film has. The story is good, but if you're looking for a John Grisham type film with shouting and ridiculous twists in the final reel then you're in the wrong place. What we have here is a clever, interesting story that moves slowly – focusing on Biegler rather than twists and turns in the actual plot.

Biegler is sort of clean cut, but he seems like a real lawyer – he twists facts and prompts lies in order to improve his case. The various tricks and theatrical shenanigans during the trail are also well observed. The characters are all interesting with only the judge seeming like a dull stereotype.

James Stewart is excellent and helps make the shifty lawyer more likeable and relatable. Remick is excellent as the flirtatious Laura while Gazzara is cool as the accused. George C Scott doesn't have much to do, but does well anyway.

Overall a very enjoyable courtroom thriller – it lacks the fireworks of modern legal dramas but has a nice cynical edge to it that shows it isn't as in awe of the law as Grisham is.


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