HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
   
 
  Anatomy of a Murder Courting ControversyBuy this film here.
Year: 1959
Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O'Connell, Eve Arden, Kathryn Grant, George C. Scott, Orson Bean, Russ Smith, Murray Hamilton, Brooks West, Ken Lynch, John Qualen, Howard McNear, Alexander Campbell, Joseph N. Welch, Jimmy Conlin
Genre: Drama
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: When underworked lawyer Paul Biegler (James Stewart) returns from one of his many fishing trips, he finds he has a note waiting for him from one Laura Manion (Lee Remick): a new case for him to work on, perhaps. He lives with his best friend Parnell (Arthur O'Connell), but whereas the old fellow had once been a talented man of law himself, alcoholism has drained his spirit, much to Biegler's unspoken dismay. He would like nothing better for Parnell to assist him, and on this Manion case he could have the opportunity, as there's quite the buzz about it...

Director Otto Preminger got it into his head that he should be a trailblazer, a pioneer of stretching the boundaries of cinema, and one of the ways he did so was in the field of language. In one of his earlier films, romantic comedy The Moon is Blue, he had introduced the word "virgin" into American movies, but with Anatomy of a Murder he went quite some way further, using the fact he was depicting a court case to introduce such words as "rape", "panties", "sperm" and "sexual climax" into the vocabulary of his film, all excused because they were employed in a legal situation. At the time, what was even more shocking was that James Stewart was saying them.

Even though Stewart had broadened his range throughout the fifties with some tough roles, especially in Westerns, he still hadn't shaken off his persona of Mr Smith Goes to Washington, an overgrown boy scout at worst, a dignified man of decency at best, and certainly his public image was never controversial as he played the conservative, professional family man. But actually he had a subversive streak in his choices, not content to settle back on his laurels and keen to push himself in those films, so Anatomy of a Murder, which was pretty much a courtroom drama of the sort audiences were watching every week on the Perry Mason show, snuck in under the radar.

Except that here the lawyer played by Stewart was facing a far more ambiguous case, and many took against the film because it appeared he was trying to acquit a criminal whose innocence was far from definite. Which was what made it interesting, of course, and as the defendant, an army lieutenant named Frederick Manion was played by Ben Gazzara, an actor whose sly menace could be applied to some seriously shady characters, you're not sure you should be wanting him to get away with whatever he's on trial for. That being the murder of a bartender who, the curiously cheerful and flirty Laura claims, raped her the night Manion did the deed: can a plea of temporary insanity let him off?

Also muddying the moral waters was George C. Scott on the prosecutor's side, another brooding presence who is so cast that we do not wish him to succeed when he's up against the folksy wisdom of Biegler; really the viewer was placed in a very difficult position and a take on the law which was far from benevolent. In a skilled item of manipulation, the judge was played by Joseph N. Welch who had memorably destroyed far right senator Joseph McCarthy on television, so we cannot in all conscience feel he is on the wrong side, yet on the other hand we see a man whose guilt is evident playing the jury thanks to a terrific lawyer who is frankly in it for the money rather than any sense of justice: if Biegler wanted that, you'd assume he'd at least deliberately try to lose the case, and he assuredly does not. In its faithfulness to the book it was based on (a true story) the plot dragged for far too long, and at times it was like a filmed piece of theatre complete with audience in the courtroom laughing and gasping on cue, but there was plenty to intrigue in a deceptively scathing look at the legal system. Music by Duke Ellington (who cameos).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3317 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: