Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!
Anatomy of a Murder
Directed by Otto Preminger
Quick synopsis… 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.
This is another one that could only be accessed thanks to my local library having a DVD copy on hand. This, unfortunately, meant that I faced another film that had some damages on the disc that caused me to miss a few chunks of scenes here and there. But I’m pretty sure I got the gist of it.
However… if I had it to do all over again, I’d have rented this thing off of Apple TV or Prime Video.
In doing some research after the fact, I found that a lot of organizations consider this film to be one of the best courtroom dramas of all time. Of all the courtroom dramas I’ve seen over the years, I now have to agree.
The movie is based on the book of the same name, which is, itself, based on actual events that took place on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. James Stewart plays Paul Biegler, a former district attorney who is now acting as the defense attorney of an Army Lieutenant who has admitted to murdering a man who raped his wife. Though Lt. Manion admits to the murder, he has no memory of the event. This leads Biegler to utilize a version of the temporary insanity defense.
When I say that the action in the courtroom is incredibly well done, I mean it rivals other courtroom dramas like A Few Good Men or A Time to Kill. And for a film that came out in 1959, they really pushed the envelope when it comes to the content they were able to include.
I highly recommend seeing this one if you get the chance. Having now seen Anatomy of a Murder, it ranks at number 158 out of 2,293 movies on my personal Flickchart list.
Have you seen Anatomy of a Murder? What did you think of the courtroom drama? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments!