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Anatomy Of A Murder [VHS]


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Product details

  • Actors: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O'Connell, Eve Arden
  • Directors: Otto Preminger
  • Writers: John D. Voelker, Wendell Mayes
  • Producers: Otto Preminger
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Uca
  • VHS Release Date: 1 July 2002
  • Run Time: 154 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005V8U7
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 446,698 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Smalltown lawyer Paul Biegler (James Stewart) courts controversy when he agrees to defend army lieutenant Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), who is facing charges of murder. It is alleged that Manion killed a bartender whom he believed to have raped his wife (Lee Remick), and the evidence assembled by the hard-headed big city prosecutor Claude Dancer (George C. Scott) seems to confirm this. Nevertheless, Biegler believes in his client and does his best to prove his innocence. Otto Preminger's courtroom drama features a score by jazz great Duke Ellington, titles by the legendary Saul Bass, and was nominated for seven Oscars.

From Amazon.co.uk

Anatomy of a Murder, Otto Preminger's 1959 film of the novel by Robert Traver (a pen name for a Michigan Supreme Court Justice), was controversial in its day for making frank on-screen use of then-unheard words such as "panties", "rape" and "spermatogenesis"--and it remains a trenchant, bitter, tough, witty dissection of the American legal system. With its striking Saul Bass title design and jazzy Duke Ellington score, Anatomy of a Murder takes a sophisticated approach unusual for a Hollywood film of its vintage. Most radically, it refuses to show the murder or any of the private scenes recounted in court, leaving it up to us to decide along with the jury whether the grumpy and unconcerned Lieutenant Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara) was or was not subject to an "irresistible impulse" tantamount to insanity when he shot dead Barney Quill, the bear-like bar owner alleged to have raped Manion's teasing trailer-trash wife Laura (Lee Remick in unfeasibly tight trousers). James Stewart plays Paul "Polly" Biegler a former District Attorney keen to get back into court to clash with the political dullard who replaced him in office. Biegler is supported by the skills of his snide secretary (Eve Arden) and boozy-but-brilliant research partner (Arthur O'Connell). For the prosecution, the befuddled local DA hauls in Dancer (George C Scott), a prissy legal eagle from the local big city whose sharp-suited, sly elegance makes an interesting clash with Biegler's "aw-shucks" jimmy-stewartian conniving. This is simply the best trial movie ever made, with a real understanding of the way lawyers have to be not only great actors but stars, assuming personalities that exaggerate their inner selves and weighing every outburst and objection for the effect it has on the poor saps in the jury box.

On the DVD: The print is letterboxed to 1.85:1, but it's a bit of a cheat since that seems to involve trimming the top and bottom of the image (losing the steps under and the clouds above the Columbia lady in the opening titles), though the film isn't seriously hurt by a tighter look at the action. Also included are: an Ellington-scored photo montage, soundtracks in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish with subtitles in ten languages, filmographies for director and principal cast, original advertising (highlighting Saul Bass' poster designs, a trailer and more trailers for more Columbia Jimmy Stewart or courtroom films. --Kim Newman --This text refers to the DVD edition.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 26 Mar. 2005
Format: DVD
Preminger's "Anatomy of a Murder" is possibly the finest courtroom drama yet made, with emphasis on 'courtroom'. The dissection of the murder's anatomy takes place within the court, within the language and conflicting narratives of the key players. We don't see the events surrounding the murder ... we see the trial.
It's a simple enough plot. A soldier (Ben Gazarra) is held for the murder of a man who has allegedly raped his wife. The wife (Lee Remick) is far removed from the wholesome image of faithful wife - she wears revealing clothes, hangs out down the bar, and flirts with any male who comes within hailing distance. James Stewart plays the small-town lawyer persuaded to take the unwinnable case - he's bright, but he's jaded after years as District Attorney, and prefers to escape down the river to fish for trout.
It's an open-and-shut case - the soldier admits the shooting, there are witnesses, and the wife's morals are the subject of much gossip around town. The tension is in whether or not Stewart can prove the rape allegation ... and whether or not he can prove that this was justifiable cause for the taking of the man's life.
Preminger was taking major risks. He explores themes which were still pretty risqué in the late 50's. He doesn't sensationalise - we get no gory murder, we get no flashbacks or images of the night. The setting is largely confined within the courtroom and Stewart's offices as we play out a psychological drama. What really happened? What really happened in the minds of the protagonists?
This is a mellow, black & white film: there are dark themes, but the lighting is certainly not 'noir' - the drama is beautifully lit, filmed almost tenderly.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ogun Eratalay on 8 Jan. 2008
Format: DVD
This film is one of the best courtroom films I have ever seen along with "12 Angry Men". The young George Scott and James Stewart excell themselves along with the whole crew.

The film revolves around a murder case under peculiar circumstances. An army lieutenant kills a bar owner who allegedly raped his wife. The raped wife is joyful and full of life married with a jealous and easily infuriated Korean War hero who carries a Luger as a memento of the World War 2. The small town lawyer and his team carefully study the case and finally beat the young and succesfull attorney who is on the way up in his carreer.

In my opinion the film tries to give the audience the feeling that people can not be judged harshly with regards to their evident appearances. They have to be carefully examined and studied before judging them. All the men have vices and virtues at the same time.

A very good movie worth watching over and over again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. David M. Berry on 10 Jan. 2013
Format: Blu-ray
When U.S Army Lieutenant Frederick "Manny" Manion (Ben Gazzara) is arrested for first degree murder when he kills local tavern owner Barney Quill as he believes he raped his Wife Laura Manion (Lee Remick). Former District Attorney Paul Biegler (James Stewart) who has lost his re-election bid. Biegler now choosing to use his spare time fishing, playing the piano and hanging out with his alcoholic friend and colleague Parnell McCarthy (Arthur O'Connell), as well as his cynical secretary Maida Rutledge (Eve Arden). Biegler is contacted by Laura Manion wanting to secure his services to defend her incarcerated husband. Biegler after much deliberation makes the decision to represent Lieutenant Manion. Biegler realising the chance of getting him off such a charge even with such a strong motivation decides irresistible impulse a version of a temporary insanity as his defence. Biegler finds himself facing District Attorney Mitch Lodwick (Brooks West), the man who ousted him from office, and Assistant State Attorney General Claude Dancer (George C. Scott) an incredibly smart and ambitious man, when the case comes to trial, holding court is Judge Weaver (Joseph N. Welch, a former U.S. Army Head Council).

Adapted by Wendell Mayes from the best-selling novel of the same name written by Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker under the pen name Robert Traver. Voelker based the novel on a 1952 murder case in which he was the defense attorney. Most likely Hollywood director Otto Preminger's most well known and successful film. The language used while now would seem tame was considered explicit and in one case saw Preminger go to federal court to defend it when Chicago Police Commissioner and Mayor Richard J.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Barry HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Feb. 2014
Format: Blu-ray
Blisteringly good picture quality on this 1959 classic issued by Criterion on BLU RAY in The States in 2012.

But unfortunately that's the end of the good news - because once again Region Coding thwarts film fans in Blighty and Europe.
I say this because this US-only BLU RAY is a REGION-A LOCKED title - so can only be seen on multi-region Blu Ray Players - and they're scarce and very expensive on this side of the pond...(unlike their multi-region DVD counterparts).

Until such time as ”Anatomy Of A Murder” is given a British release by someone else - another classic remains frustratingly out of our reach...
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