Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Anatomy of a Murder [1959]

Most courtroom dramas, even the good ones, relegate the legal aspects to a secondary status – using them only as a means for accentuating character dynamics, mood creation and thematic development. Otto Preminger’s masterly Anatomy of a Murder proved with aplomb that a movie can have the plot’s legal content as its primary focus and still manage to be an outstanding work. Adapted from a bestselling novel, the movie is about a brilliant and likeable Defense Attorney taking up the case of a jealous army-man who has killed a bar owner purportedly to avenge the rape of his trophy wife. The movie comprises of a series of issues which are slippery not just from legal standpoint but also for their moral ambivalence. As such, there aren’t any classic good guys or bad guys populating this excellently written script. And its head-on tackling of subjects considered taboo during that era was truly laudatory. James Stewart gave a crackling performance as the smart lawyer who knows very well how to combine sharp legal acumen with deliberate showmanship to get his points across. He had great support in the form of George C. Scott as the formidable Prosecutor, a young Ben Gazarra as the accused, Lee Remick as his brazenly seductive wife, among others. The leisurely pacing of the narrative played a key role in ensuring every detail of the serpentine proceedings are expertly dealt with, while the terrific B/W photography and the soulful jazz-based score (used in moderation) assured in maintaining the movie’s arresting atmosphere and moodiness.

Director: Otto Preminger
Genre: Drama/Legal Drama
Language: English
Country: US

No comments: