HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Little Monsters
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans
Pentathlon
Anna
Moulin Rouge
Ray & Liz
African Queen, The
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Yentl
Finishing Line, The
Triple Threat
Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, The
Driven
Planet of the Dinosaurs
Gwen
Big Breadwinner Hog
Thunder Road
Moby Dick
Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie
Mad Room, The
Phantom of the Megaplex
Night Sitter, The
Child's Play
Power, The
Midsommar
After Midnight
Dolemite is My Name
Varda by Agnes
Toy Story 4
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
Man Who Never Was, The
Greener Grass
Scobie Malone
Gangster, the Cop, the Devil, The
Brightburn
Satanic Panic
Claudine
Harpoon
   
 
Newest Articles
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
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy 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 3147 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 do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: