A former district attorney defends a soldier
accused of murdering the man who raped his wife.
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Directed by Otto Preminger
Written by Wendell Mayes
Starring James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazarra,
Arthur O'Connell, Eve Arden, George C. Scott,
Kathryn Grant, Murray Hamilton, James Daly
Based on the novel by Robert Traver
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (James Stewart),
Best Supporting Actor (Arthur O'Connell), Best Supporting Actor (George C. Scott), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing
A surefire sign of a good movie is when two hours and forty minutes just fly by. This was the case with Anatomy of a Murder, one of the best courtroom dramas of all time. Led by a powerful performance from the legendary James Stewart, this film shows that justice isn't always so black and white and how facts can be manipulated to twist theories that fit with the case. Plus, it was one of George C. Scott's first major film roles and you get to see how he was already a fantastic actor from the get-go. This film dealt with harsh themes that weren't exactly the norm to delve into back in 1959. It broke new ground in that way, being one of the first major films to actually deal with rape as part of the narrative.
Anatomy of a Murder is at the top of the courtroom drama list for a reason. It feels like a real court case and every actor puts in a strong performance that only adds to the beliveability. I admire director Otto Preminger in that he refused to let studios dictate how he made his film. He made the courtroom drama he wanted with the controversial themes that needed to be present. His persistence helped craft a picture that's strong enough to still be relevant and watchable all these years later.
With a fantastic script, a loaded cast, and a jazzy score by Duke Ellington, it's no wonder Anatomy of a Murder has lasted decades and become one of the most influential legal dramas of all time. James Stewart's famous everyman look helps make him a great protagonist, even if he isn't the best lawyer in town. While I was a bit taken aback by the abrupt and kinda predictable ending, I did admire the ride enough to give this film the rating it deserves.