in about 100 words or less
US 160m, B&W
Director: Otto Preminger; Cast: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O’Connell, George C. Scott
Though receiving numerous accolades as one of the finest trial movies ever made, it quickly becomes apparent that winning a case is far more important than determining innocence or guilt. As the defense attorney, Stewart is brilliantly manipulative in his portrayal as a small time lawyer whose real passions lie outside the courtroom. In what eventually amounts to an unsavory game, he takes on a murder case at the encouragement of an old friend who also uses it to revitalize his career. Most interestingly, Preminger never digs too deeply to reveal what actually happened, but rather, focuses on the manipulation of the events by both sides. A highly entertaining and an endlessly debatable film, it serves as a scathing indictment of a deeply flawed legal system which is administered by self-serving and contemptible characters (Klaus Ming April 2011).