Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Director: Otto Preminger
Starring: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara

A small town lawyer defends an Army lieutenant accused of murdering the man who allegedly raped his wife.

After watching Witness for the Prosecution and 12 Angry Men, I knew I had to go back and rewatch Anatomy of a Murder for review purposes. While it's on the lower end of AFI's top ten courtroom dramas, it's probably my favorite thus far. It's incredibly well-written and well-acted with a cast of deep, interesting characters and some good twists and turns along the way, all set to a jazzy soundtrack by Duke Ellington, who makes a cameo appearance. All the performances are great. Of course Jimmy Stewart is at the top of his game and George C Scott is amazing (in what was actually only his second feature film appearance). Usually when a real-life professional goes on screen, we get an awkward stilted performance, but Joseph Welch is a natural in front of the camera as the sober and rather snarky Judge Weaver. Another thing I want to comment about is how bold this movie is, especially in light of when it was released. It's a wonder they were able to get it through the Hays Code. (Jimmy Stewart's own father railed against it as a "dirty picture".) It's about as blunt and frank and full of grey and grey morality as any more recent film. This really is one of the great gems of cinema history and if you have any interest at all in courtroom drama, you absolutely need to see it.

Treasure It