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?


Otto Preminger


Wendell Mayes (screenplay), John D. Voelker (based on the novel by) (as Robert Traver)
Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
James Stewart ... Paul Biegler
Lee Remick ... Laura Manion
Ben Gazzara ... Lt. Frederick Manion
Arthur O'Connell ... Parnell Emmett McCarthy
Eve Arden ... Maida Rutledge
Kathryn Grant ... Mary Pilant
George C. Scott ... Claude Dancer
Orson Bean ... Dr. Matthew Smith
Russ Brown Russ Brown ... George Lemon
Murray Hamilton ... Alphonse Paquette
Brooks West ... Dist. Atty. Mitch Lodwick
Ken Lynch ... Det. Sgt. James Durgo
John Qualen ... Deputy Sheriff Sulo
Howard McNear ... Dr. Dompierre
Alexander Campbell ... Dr. W. Gregory Harcourt


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 local paper has reported that 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


No search of human emotions has ever probed so deeply, so truthfully as ... Anatomy of a Murder. See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The film was banned in Chicago, IL. See more »


Several times in the movie one of the characters makes a humorous comment and you hear the courtroom audience burst out laughing; however, when the camera immediately turns to the audience, they are shown completely still and without emotion. See more »


Maida Rutledge: If this refrigerator gets any more fish in it, it will swim upstream and spawn all by itself.
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Featured in Stars of the Silver Screen: James Stewart (2011) See more »

User Reviews

Top-drawer courtroom drama with classic performances and thought-provoking screenplay
19 July 2019 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Top-notch and realistic coutroom drama masterfully played with fine supporting and competently directed, being deemed by many to be the best drama ever made. Small-time lawyer as well as ex-prosecutor James Stewart living in Northern Michigan takes on a twisted case through a tangle of violation and murder, as he defends an Army Lieutenant, Ben Gazzarra, accused for murder, as he is suspect to have killed a man who raped his philander wife, Lee Remick.

Cynical and provoking portrayal of the criminal court focusing the interplay among the various courtroom roles. The movie gets an exciting battle of wits between the obstinate lawyer Stewart and the clever prosecutor George C Scott. At the time the film was very controversial and explosive due to engaging stuff and strong language, though tame by today's standars. Based on actual events, in fact it was written by judge Robert Traver, author of a notorious bestseller. Terrific acting by James Stewart as brilliant, slow-talking advocate at law picking his way determinedly who faces George C Scott as the intelligent prosecutor who attempts the suspect to be condemned at whatever means. Special mention for Lee Remick as the explosive and hot spouse, Arthur O'connell as the friendly old colleague who is instantly likeable, Eve Arden as the madure, wisecracking helper and Joseph Welch as the sympathetic but rigid judge .

Evocative and perfect cinematography in black and white by Sam Leavitt, being shot on location in upper Michigan. And appropriate and jazzy soundtrack by Duke Ellington who appears himself along with Stewart playing piano. The motion picture was stunningly directed by Otto Preminger who made several successful and classy movies such as : Fallen angel, Daisy Kenyon, Forever amber, Whirlpool, Angel face, The moon is blue, Carmen Jones , Court martial of Billy Mitchell, The man with the golden arm, Saint Joan, Bonjour Tristesse, Exodus, The cardinal, Advise and consent, Hurry sundown, Bunny Lake is missing, In harm's way, The human factor, among others. Rating 8/10 Better than average. Highly watchable courtroom drama.

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Release Date:

13 July 1959 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

Anatomy of a Murder See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Otto Preminger Films See more »
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Technical Specs


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Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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