ming movie reviews

in about 100 words or less

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

US 160m, B&W
Director: Otto Preminger; Cast: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O’Connell, George C. Scott

anatomyofamurderThough 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).

4 comments on “Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

  1. Joachim Boaz
    04/09/2011

    In other news, Sidney Lumet just died 😦

    I loved this Preminger film — one of his best.

  2. Anthony Lee Collins
    04/09/2011

    Many great things in this film, but my favorite immediate memories are 1) the score, 2) the great scenes of Jimmy Stewart trying to deal with the fact that women were quite a bit more plainspoken than when he was growing up (both his client — all that talk of whether she needed a girdle, and the immortally great Eve Arden as his secretary), 3) the fact that, as you say, you never really do learn the truth, and 4) that the judge was played by Joseph Welch, who wasn’t an actor but was in fact the man who said to Senator Joe McCarthy, “At long last, have you no sense of decency, sir?” during the Army-McCarthy hearings. (Depicted in the excellent movie “Good Night, and Good Luck,” including the footage from the hearings themselves — it gave me a lot of pleasure that in the commentary to that movie, Clooney talked several times about how many things he had learned from watching Altman movies.)

  3. Klaus
    04/10/2011

    I liked the music, but I thought the score was a little heavy handed at times — at least a little too prominent. I haven’t listened to the commentary for this film, but it sounds pretty interesting.

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This entry was posted on 04/09/2011 by in 1001 List, 1950s, All and tagged .
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