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Anatomy Of A Murder

Anatomy Of A Murder

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Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), a lieutenant in the army, is arrested for the murder of a bartender, Barney Quill. He claims, in his defense, that the victim had raped and beaten up his wife Laura (Lee Remick). Although Laura supports her husband's story, the local paper has reported that the police surgeon can find no evidence that she has been raped. Manion is defended by Paul Biegler (James Stewart), a humble small-town lawyer and recently deposed district attorney. During the course of interviews, Biegler discovers that Manion is violently possessive and jealous, and also that his wife has a reputation for flirting with other men. Biegler realizes that the prosecution will try to make the court believe that Laura had been drunk and was picked up by the bartender and then her husband killed him and beat her up when he discovered they had been together. Manion pleads "not guilty" and Biegler, who knows that his case is weak, tries to find evidence that will save Manion.

STARS: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara

161 min | Drama, Mystery | 1959 | Color


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I am a trial attorney
I have tried more cases than I can remember - hundreds. This movie, more than any other, comes closet to real life. In criminal cases., the first and most important thing is - the phone call. That's right, getting the case. Next comes the 'talk.' An attorney has to inform the client of the possible outcomes given the facts. In Anatomy of a Murder, the main facts are 'undisputed', that is, there is no doubt that the defendant killed the victim. Given that fact, there are only so many possible defenses - and so Jimmy Stewart, in one of the best performances of his career, relates those defenses to Ben Gazzara, in one of his best performances. Along the way, we are treated to George C. Scott's premiere performance on screen - and it is is magnificent. Did I mention how incredible and sexy and vulnerable Lee Remick is? And the rest of the cast is also as good as it gets. And then there's the Duke Ellington score (he won a Grammy) and the Wendell Mayes screenplay and the B/W cinematography by Sam Leavitt (The Defiant Ones (Oscar-winner), A Star is Born (1954)). Watch this movie to see how to make a crime drama. There is nothing as good as it is - nothing.

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