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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?

Director:

Otto Preminger

Writers:

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 »

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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
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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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

September 1959 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Anatomy of a Murder See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$11,900,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Otto Preminger Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Chuck Ramsay, a sportscaster on WBAY in Green Bay, WI, played a small part as an orderly. Whenever the station ran this film on its late-night schedule, it was always billed as "starring Chuck Ramsay". See more »

Goofs

The Lieutenant is a combat veteran of the Korean War. His ribbons show The Silver and Bronze Star Medals and more. It would seem logical that a veteran with those medals would also have The Combat Infantryman's Badge, which the Lieutenant does not have. See more »

Quotes

[Judge Weaver has stopped the testimony by Detective Sergeant James Durgo, State Police, and called the lawyers to his bench]
Judge Weaver: Mr. Biegler, you finally got your rape into the case, and I think all the details should now be made clear to the jury. What exactly was the undergarment just referred to?
Paul Biegler: Panties, Your Honor.
Judge Weaver: Do you expect this subject to come up again?
Paul Biegler: Yes, Sir.
Judge Weaver: There's a certain light connotation attached to the word "panties." Can we find another name for them?
Mitch Lodwick: I never heard my wife ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Lana Turner (1959) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

First-Class Courtroom Drama
2 December 2004 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

As a courtroom drama, "Anatomy of a Murder" would be hard to surpass. It is a first-class production with an interesting and unpredictable story plus a strong cast. It works admirably, both as a story and as a portrayal of the workings of the law. It avoids the labored dramatics and contrived resolutions in which so many movies of the genre indulge, and it also declines to shy away from pointing out the more ill-conceived features of the legal system.

From his first scene, James Stewart pulls the viewer right into the world of lawyer Paul Biegler. It takes little time before you come to know him and to get a pretty good idea of what his life is like. His scenes with Arthur O'Connell work well in rounding out the picture. The two are neither heroic nor brilliant, but simply sympathetic and believable.

Into Biegler's world then come the characters played by Ben Gazzara and Lee Remick, a married couple with more than their share of faults. By making them less than ideal clients, the movie takes a chance on losing the audience's sympathy, but it adds credibility and complexity to the story. Both roles are played well - again, it seems as if you know a lot more about them than is specifically stated.

When George C. Scott enters the picture, he adds yet another dimension. His character arrives at just the right time to complicate the plot, and his legal skirmishing with Stewart makes some dry material come to life in an interesting way. Eve Arden also has some good moments, and her character is used in just the right amount to add some amusement without causing a distraction from the main story. It's also interesting to see Joseph Welch as the judge, and his portrayal works well enough.

Otto Preminger holds everything together nicely, with the right amount of detail and a pace that keeps the story moving steadily. The result is a very nice contrast to the many run-of-the mill legal/courtroom movies that present such an idealized view of the justice system. It maintains a careful balance, making clear the flaws and unpleasant realities of the system, yet never taking cheap shots either. And it's also an interesting and involved story, one of the most carefully-crafted of its kind.


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