8.0/10
57,854
230 user 116 critic

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | September 1959 (Austria)
Trailer
4:25 | Trailer
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?

Director:

Otto Preminger

Writers:

Wendell Mayes (screenplay), John D. Voelker (based on the novel by) (as Robert Traver)
Reviews
Popularity
3,532 ( 136)
Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

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
Learn more

More Like This 

Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A woman reports that her young daughter is missing, but there seems to be no evidence that she ever existed.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Keir Dullea, Carol Lynley, Laurence Olivier
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A senator returns to a western town for the funeral of an old friend and tells the story of his origins.

Director: John Ford
Stars: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles
Rope (1948)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Two men attempt to prove they committed the perfect crime by hosting a dinner party after strangling their former classmate to death.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger
The Big Heat (1953)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando
Laura (1944)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A potentially violent screenwriter is a murder suspect until his lovely neighbor clears him. However, she soon starts to have her doubts.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A psychopath forces a tennis star to comply with his theory that two strangers can get away with murder.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman
Touch of Evil (1958)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Janet Leigh
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In 1951, a group of high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated, atrophied North Texas town that is slowly dying, both culturally and economically.

Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Stars: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid the $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery.

Director: Charles Laughton
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish
Edit

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 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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies. See more »

Goofs

When Paul Biegler talks to Laura in his office, he opens the cigar box, sees that there are no more cigars in it and puts it back on the table. In the next shot, Laura is seen talking. In the following shot, the cigar box is missing from the table. See more »

Quotes

Paul Biegler: Look, Laura, believe me, I don't usually complain of an attractive jiggle, but just you save that jiggle for your husband to look at, if and when I get him out of jail.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Anatomy of 'Anatomy' (2014) See more »

User Reviews

 
Gray Anatomy
15 July 2001 | by telegonusSee all my reviews

Anatomy Of a Murder is probably Otto Preminger's best film. It's certainly my favorite. Adapted from a novel by Robert Traver, it tells the story of a lawyer in northern Michigan and his defense of a particularly surly and violent murderer. As is always the case with Preminger, scenes are filmed mostly with all the characters present in the frame. There is no cross-cutting to speak of, which is to say the drama plays out with the assorted characters confronting one another, or at any rate with one another, and the effect is one of surprising warmth and good feeling in the movie's cosier scenes, which for once enhance rather than detract from the drama. I would have been quite happy to have spent much more time in lawyer Biegler's house and study, with its books, old furniture and broken typewriter, but alas this is a murder case so one has to get down to businss.

The question of whether the defendant, an army officer, was temporarily insane, is in fact insane, or is merely putting on a good show, is never fully resolved. The lawyer is by no means perfect. He's a little lazy, though he gets over it. One senses he's cheap. He enjoys his shabby genteel bachelor's life and isn't always responsive to the needs of his secretary, who would like to get paid more regularly. In the end he proves far more dedicated and brilliant than we might have first imagined him to be, but the fly in the buttermilk is that the better he gets the more complicated the case becomes, and the more ambiguous everything gets the more he finds out about his client and the man he killed. In this respect the movie is a masterpiece of ambiguity. Beautifully shot on location in black and white, it is more gray than anything else. Morally gray. No one is quite what he appears to be at first. And people change; or rather we learn more about them. The bartender at the resort where his boss was killed at first comes off as a jerk; in time he comes to seem more of a jerk. Then he seems maybe not so bad after all; and then he's a jerk once more, but a jerk we understand. The lawyer's assistant, an on-again, off-again recovering alcoholic, is also a mixed bag. He is dogged but sloppy, and always (or so it appears) on the verge of breakdown. Or at least this is how Arthur O'Connell plays him. The prosecuting attorney is a dolt, but he is aided by a legal bigwig the state has brought in, but this hotshot is no match for the cunning country lawyer. The defendant's wife, who 'started the whole thing' is gorgeous, sexy and provocative. She makes a play for her husband's lawyer, but he doesn't bite. One wonders about her. And one wonders about the marriage she and her hot-tempered spouse really have, and whether it will last.

This is a very sophisticated and adult movie for 1959, or for that matter today. The location filming greatly enhances the mood, chilly and very upper midwestern. Yet indoors one feels different, and the tone is often playful. The actors are superb. James Stewart is gritty, lovable, homespun, physically slow and mentally quick; and for all the familiarity there is about his screen persona, out of character, that is, in character he manages continually to surprise and delight. He was a true actor. Ben Gazzara is very Method actorish, which suits him well in his role as the volatile military man. Lee Remick is stunning as his wife, and one can well imagine a man killing for her, many times over. She is also a good actress. George C. Scott plays the state's bulldog prosecutor well, though he's an acquired taste at best. His hamminess contrasts with Stewart's folksy naturalism in interesting ways not ungermane to the plot, but he is out-acted and outclassed by the old pro he is presumably upstaging in this film.


76 of 96 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 230 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

September 1959 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Anatomy of a Murder See more »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$11,900,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Otto Preminger Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed