Nothing like watching a great classic, on a crappy Sunday.
Nominated for seven Oscars, this legal thriller profiles the attempts of country lawyer Paul Biegler (James Stewart) to exonerate Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), who’s charged with a local barkeep’s murder but claims the victim raped his wife (Lee Remick). Employing a temporary insanity defense, Biegler tries to outmaneuver slick celebrity prosecutor Claude Dancer (George C. Scott) but discovers there’s more to the case than meets the eye.
You know sometimes, when you watch old films, from like 50’s and 60’s, and they are so dated, that they are actually boring. Well, this for me, was not that kind of film.
Never in film has it quite been done so well, that a film can have such a great message about the world we live in, that stands the test of time. In the nature of another great courtroom classic from a similar time period, To Kill a Mockingbird. Both of these films touch on the matter that we as humans in our society have motives that are both mixed and dubious, and therefore our uncertainty is that we don’t know what the world is like.
I love courtroom dramas, and I really have no idea why. I don’t want to be a lawyer or anything like that, they have just always interested me in a weird way. And this one here is surely one of the best of all-time. The film moves and is shot in real-time, with a time limit of 2 hours and 40 minutes that does not once feel over-played one bit. Director Otto Preminger keeps this film at a nice pace for all of us to understand, and easily not get bored at. The film’s first 1 and 30 minutes are dedicated to the gathering of evidence, which is used effectively, cause you get to see all the steps a lawyer must make in order to make sure he has taken the right case. Also, the black-and-white is for some reason so special here, cause it does add a lot to the moral effect, to where nothing at all seems right.
The film’s screenplay is also very noticeable cause it is one of the very first few films to test the boundaries, of the movie ratings. The film makes a lot of frank references to sex and rape, which back in 1959, was definably a no-no. However, this film tests those ears, and gets its point across, with some of the most intelligent dialogue I have ever heard in my life. It’s funny, visceral, thought-provoking, and overall brilliant, of how such a film can create such dialogue that can be seen as something in today’s world. In the screenplay, there are no good-guys and there are no bad-guys, just like real-life, we are chosen by our decisions.
How is it that a film, can have so many great performances packed all into one film?? James Stewart leads the crew with his usual “lovable loser” look, but still defines class, and how it was presented in the late 1950’s. He’s funny, powerful, and overall believable, making this one of the more very believable people I have seen in recent films. George C. Scott shows up latter in the film, but adds some more of his cocky attitude to the film to show us more why we should just forget that he played Patton. Also, the one performance that really stands out in my mind especially, is the one given by Lee Remick, who plays this tease so perfect, so sexy, and so believable, that you can see how looks and talent can go hand-in-hand in most cases, as well as when you got a chick that in today’s world that can be viewed as very good-looking.
Consensus: How can a film be thought-provoking, realistic, well-acted, beautifully written, heavily stylized by black-and-white, and stand the test of time even though it was filmed in the 50’s? Well that’s why Anatomy of a Murder is a classic for all to see, whether you like courtroom dramas or not, there’s always a message that is in today’s world.