Thursday, April 25, 2013

342. Anatomy of a Murder

Anatomy of a Murder
Directed by Otto Preminger

I put off writing this review for awhile, mostly because I am absolutely in love with this movie.  I can bitch about films rather well, but it is hard for me to write a rave; I feel like I sometimes come across as a gushing fangirl.  However, we will brave our way through this review and hopefully, I will be able to convince everyone to watch this gem asap.

James Stewart plays a small town lawyer named Paul Biegler, who is hired by Laura Manion to defend her husband against a charge of first degree murder. Her husband does not deny that he killed Barney Quill, but claims that Barney raped his wife.

The beauty of this film is that the viewer acts a jury member.  We are never shown what really happened; it is up to us to decide that for ourselves.  Much like in 12 Angry Men, we are not given a flashback sequence where everything is cleared up for us.  We just have to rely on different characters' testimonies and, along with Jimmy Stewart, try to decide if they are telling the truth.

I was also fascinating by the acting.  Of course, James Stewart is fantastic.  However, the minor characters were sometimes great, other times not so much.  Of course, that begs the question: are they bad actors or are the characters bad actors?

This film is two hours and forty minutes and I was not bored for a second of it.  If there is one thing the fifties got right, it's courtroom dramas.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Lee Remick's part was turned down by Lana Turner and Jayne Mansfield.

Stewart's father took out an ad in the local newspaper urging people not to see this movie because he thought it was too dirty.

Included the words bitch, sperm, contraceptive, rape, penetration, panties, and slut.  Bye, bye production code!



  1. Beautiful movie. I share your point of view: "We are never shown what really happened; it is up to us to decide that for ourselves."

    Another bright comment: "are they bad actors or are the characters bad actors?"

    I liked very much George Scott's character even though he acts almost as the same way he did in "Hustler".

  2. Another of those films on here that one feels very grateful for someone commenting on, as (all praise and thanks for the 'recent comment' bar), when they do, it reminds you of a film, and your review of, that well deserves repeated conversation about .. and the 'I really want to see this one again'. Thank you Ravik.
    With you all the way on this Amanda. It's a long time since I've seen it, so parts are a little hazy, but I clearly remember large parts of it (some of the cross examining) and being engrossed by it.

  3. I suppose this is one of those movies that are very well made, but I find difficult to like because of the subject matter.¨
    In antiquity there was a group of philosophers that were particularly hated, because they thought that anything could be true as long as you could argue for it and they were very good at arguing (the sophists). This is the same feeling I get with these courtroom drama's. the objective truth is irrelevant if you can through distractions, technicallities or arguing sway the jury. There is a part of me that feels offended and disgusted and prevents me from actually liking this movie.