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ANATOMY OF A MURDER, 1959
Classic Movie Review


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ANATOMY OF A MURDER MOVIE POSTER
ANATOMY OF A MURDER, 1959
Movie Reviews

Directed by Otto Preminger
Starring: James Stewart, Ben Gazzara
Review by Euboea Brown



SYNOPSIS:

In a murder trial, the defendant says he suffered temporary insanity after the victim raped his wife. What is the truth, and will he win his case?

REVIEW:

The courtroom drama, Anatomy of a Murder, shows what attorneys gothrough and deal with in order to convince a jury whether or not a someone is guilty or not of a said crime committed.

This black and white film is simplistic in design, for, the focus is on the court case of Lieutenant Frederick Manion who intentionally murdered a man his wife claims raped her. Most of the film takes place in a Michigan courtroom with an unusually witty air.

What is lovely about this film is that although it spends most of the time in the courtroom and going back and forth between the prosecutor and defense attorneys badgering witness after witness, it is not in the least dull. There is a stand-in judge, who is preoccupied with his pocket watch throughout the trial and possesses a voice that does not symbolize the authoritative position he holds.

The courtroom terminology will seem secondhand. If an attorney is out of line or upsets Judge Weaver, he will make a statement that clarifies exactly how and what the attorney did by defining the accusation against the attorney, which is cleverly done without a lot of confusing fast-talk. Courtroom procedures are simultaneously presented when the main action takes place allowing easy meandering between background and foreground action. In other words, you are being inducted into the jury while still participating as a courtroom observer.

Featured in Anatomy of a Murder as Pie Eye and through the melodic soundtrack is musician Duke Ellington. He is seen plucking ivories with Paul Biegler in a bar scene. The music is jazzy and sultry. It reflects the type of attorney Paul is--he takes a lot of random notes and pieces them together for others to listen to and decide if it brings peace to their minds and hearts, or if it makes them ache.

The Manions present themselves as mysterious with a cool nature. This is most peculiar because one is on trial for murder and the other is a witness and victim to what lead to the murder. Neither is in a position to be ambiguous. It is not completely clarified for the audience whether or not the actions done or received by Lieutenant and Mrs. Manion actually took place before the trial, such as spousal abuse and what really happened to Mrs. Manion that night. This lack of clarification is quite fitting for their characters because it creates an incredible amount of suspense and tension, especially when Mrs. Manion is on the witness stand. Familiar faces make up this cast such as James Stewart, George C.Scott, and Kathryn Grant. If you found these portrayals interesting, check out Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), Patton (1970), and Cell 2455 Death Row (1955). These dramas crossover to crime, psychological, and war.


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