Anatomy of a Murder, based on a novel by John Voelker, with James Stewart
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
This excellent work of art was included by The New York Times on its list of Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made:
This fabulous film was directed by Otto Preminger.
He is the director of other important movies, one of which I had the pleasure to watch and note on recently:
- Advise & Consent
The star of this fantastic show is James Stewart, the charming actor who acts in so many classics of cinema:
- Vertigo, Rear Window, Harvey and It’s A Wonderful Life- I have noted on both masterpieces recently
Among his partners in Anatomy of A Murder, Lee Remick who plays Laura Manion, Ben Gazzara as her husband Lt. Manion and George C. Scott –winner of an Academy Award for Patton, which he refused- stand out.
Army Lieutenant Frederick Manion had killed the bar owner Barney Quill, even before the movie has started.
Notwithstanding the fact that it is clear who killed Barney Quill, there have been witnesses and the Lieutenant has confessed, there will be a trial.
And what a trial.
This courtroom drama is among the best, in a line up with gems of the Screen Trade:
- The Verdict, A Few Good Men, Twelve Angry Men, To Kill A Mocking Bird and other classics of the genre
James Stewart is Paul Biegler, or in his own words: “a poor country lawyer” who has to face an experimented assistant state Attorney General named Claude Dancer and portrayed by George C. Scott.
He is approached by the attractive Laura Manion, the wife of the jailed murderer to defend her husband.
Paul Biegler is a wonderful man and an excellent lawyer, who has to talk with the defendant in order to decide.
He is taking the case and has to work hard in order to find a way out, given that the story of the crime is simple.
The counsellor will plead temporary insanity.
They are nevertheless restrained by a lack of funds, given that he is not actually paid to take this case and may never be.
There is a way to get a specialist from the army to consult the defendant and indeed, the psychiatrist confirms the theory of temporary insanity.
Notwithstanding his diagnosis, this will be disputed and furthermore, the characters are complex, both the lieutenant and his wife.
Early on we see him in jail jumping into a fight with another prisoner who says something about his wife.
During the trial, the jury learns that he had a “History of Violence „and the question is raised: was he insane or is this just a pattern?
Laura Manion is also a complicated woman, whose statement that she had been raped by the deceased and then her spouse, in a fit of madness went on to kill the man who had attacked his wife is attacked.
At one point, Paul Biegler has to take the woman from a bar where she was surrounded by men and looked on the point of getting drunk.
The attitude of the wife is not the most reputable and the accusation finds incidents in the history of the couple.
As a viewer, I admit that I had many doubts.
Actually, these doubts have become convictions.
Without giving any details on the verdict and the procedures in the trial, I will just say that I did not hang in with the accused.
All right, I did not want the death sentence, but he seemed guilty and playing his defense, psychiatrist just to get out.
- Was he crazy?
- If you ask me the answer is yes, but not temporarily…