Anatomy Of A Murder
Anatomy of a Murder is a 1959 American courtroom drama film produced and directed by Otto Preminger. The screenplay by Wendell Mayes was based on the 1958 novel of the same name written by Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker under the pen name of Robert Traver. Voelker based the novel on a 1952 murder case in which he was the defense attorney.
anatomy of a murder
Quill's estate is to be inherited by Mary Pilant, whom Dancer accuses of being Quill's mistress. McCarthy learns that Pilant is in fact Quill's daughter, a fact she is anxious to keep secret since she was born out of wedlock. Biegler, who is losing the case, tries to persuade Pilant that Al Paquette, the bartender who witnessed the murder, may know if Quill admitted to raping Laura but Paquette is covering this up, either because he loves Pilant or out of loyalty to Quill. Through Pilant, Biegler is unable to get Paquette to testify on behalf of Manion.
The film was shot in several locations in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Big Bay, Marquette, Ishpeming, and Michigamme). Some scenes were filmed in the Thunder Bay Inn in Big Bay, one block from the Lumberjack Tavern, the site of the 1952 murder that inspired much of the novel. The film was previewed on June 18, 1959, in Chicago, which Variety said was 21 days after filming had finished and a record for a big-budget film. It had its first screening at the Butler Theater in Ishpeming and the Nordic Theater in Marquette on June 29, 1959. The world premiere for the film was held on July 1, 1959, at the United Artists Theater in Detroit.
In another federal lawsuit in Chicago, the daughter of the real-life murder victim from the 1952 case sued Dell Publishing and Columbia Pictures in July 1960 for libel over accusations that the book and movie "followed [the actual trial] too closely" and portrayed the two women in an unflattering light; the suit was dismissed less than a year later in May 1961.
In 1952 Voelker was asked to defend Army Lt. Coleman Peterson, who was accused of the murder of Mike Chenoweth, owner of the Lumberjack Tavern in Big Bay. After a six-day trial the jury returned a verdict of not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. Voelker turned over the events of the trial in his mind, and in 1953 he began tinkering with the idea of writing a novel based on the trial. He was not able to take the idea very far because he was working on the final draft of Small Town D.A., which was published by Dutton in 1954.
Semi-retired Michigan lawyer Paul Biegler takes the case of Army Lt. Manion, who murdered a local innkeeper after his wife claimed that he raped her. Over the course of an extensive trial, Biegler parries with District Attorney Lodwick and out-of-town prosecutor Claude Dancer to set his client free, but his case rests on the victim's mysterious business partner, who's hiding a dark secret.
Producer/Director: Otto PremingerScreenplay: Robert Traver (novel), Wendell Mayes Production Design: Boris Leven Cinematography: Sam Leavitt Film Editing: Louis R. Loeffler Original Music: Duke Ellington Cast: James Stewart (Paul Biegler), Lee Remick (Laura Manion), Ben Gazzara (Lieutenant Manion), Arthur O'Connell (Parnell McCarthy), Eve Arden (Maida Rutledge), George C. Scott (Claude Dancer), Kathryn Grant (Mary Pilant), Orson Bean (Dr. Smith), Murray Hamilton (Paquette).BW-161m.by Jeff Stafford Anatomy of a Murder Intercourse. Contraceptive. Spermatogenesis. Sexual climax. Panties. These were not the sort of words movie theatre audiences were used to hearing on the screen in 1959 but director Otto Preminger changed all that with his controversial courtroom drama, Anatomy of a Murder. It was a sure bet that the film's questionable dialogue would not pass through the Production Code office unnoticed but it wouldn't be the first time that Preminger had pushed the envelope with censorship issues in his movies. As early as 1951, he successfully challenged the Production Code over the right to use the word 'virgin' in the sex comedy, The Moon is Blue, and in 1955, he overcame opposition to his depiction of heroin addiction in The Man With the Golden Arm. Like the latter film, the more serious and compelling aspects of Anatomy of a Murder were overshadowed by the publicity surrounding the production which played up the more unsavory aspects of the rape/murder trial and sensationalized them. Yet, despite the adult subject matter, the film arrived on screens with its dialogue intact, became one of the biggest box office hits of that year, and went on to win seven Oscar nominations. Based on the best-selling novel by Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Murder stars James Stewart as a small-town Michigan attorney who agrees to defend an Army lieutenant (Ben Gazzara) for killing the man accused of raping his wife (Lee Remick). With the help of his loyal support staff - Arthur O'Connell and the acerbic Eve Arden - Stewart carefully researches his case before going head to head with a slick prosecuting attorney (George C. Scott) from the big city. Even before production began on Anatomy of a Murder, the film made front page headlines when Lana Turner, originally cast in the Lee Remick part, quit the film after a major altercation over costumes, though the actress later stated, "I would not walk out of a picture for anything as trivial as a costume. It was simply impossible to deal with Mr. Preminger's unpredictable temper." As for the part of the presiding judge in the film, Preminger offered the role to Spencer Tracy who turned it down as too small a part. Burl Ives also passed on the offer but then Spencer Tracy's assistant, Nat Rudich, came up with a great suggestion for Preminger - why not use a real judge? The director soon found the perfect 'actor' to play Judge Weaver - Joseph N. Welch, the eminent Bostonian who clashed with Senator Joseph McCarthy during the televised Un-American Activities hearings over communist activity in the U.S. Anatomy of a Murder was filmed on location in two small towns in Michigan - Ishpeming and Marquette - over an eight week period. The director also arranged for the film's composer to be present during part of the filming. In his autobiography (1977, Doubleday), Preminger wrote, "Our presence created great excitement in those little towns. The special train carrying cast, crew, and equipment arrived at six-thirty on a March day, but half the population was at the station to greet us. Duke Ellington arrived a few days after we had begun to shoot. Usually the producer waits until the filming and the first cut are completed, then he chooses the composer, who writes the score in about six weeks. I find it useful to have the composer with me on the set. By watching the progress of the shooting, seeing the dailies....he becomes part of the film...Ellington was willing to sacrifice his valuable time and work according to my system." The director even cast him in a bit part - as a pianist named 'Pie-Eye,' working at the local roadhouse. The soundtrack album marked Ellington's first film score in 25 years and the main theme was later turned into a song with lyrics by Peggy Lee entitled "I'm Gonna Go Fishin'". Of all the film's many virtues, James Stewart's portrayal of attorney Paul Biegler is a key factor in the film's success. According to the actor, he considered it his most challenging role since Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946). "It was worth all the extra effort," Stewart said in Roy Pickard's Jimmy Stewart: A Life in Film (St. Martin's Press). "I spent a lot of time memorizing my lines for that movie. The picture demanded an awful lot of time and thought. As the defense attorney I knew I had to be glibber than usual. Trial lawyers are neither shy nor inarticulate. I read my script each night until I fell asleep." Co-star George C. Scott also confirmed Stewart's dedication to the role in Pickard's biography: "Jim was very kind in rehearsing...but what I didn't expect and what stunned me was what happened after we'd finished the coverage on Jim and the camera turned around on me. Some actors have a tendency to...sort of phone it in from there. But not Mr. Stewart...(he) came and stood by the camera and performed for me alone. It was a lesson I've never forgotten." Not surprisingly, James Stewart received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance in Anatomy of a Murder (he lost to Charlton Heston for Ben-Hur) and would go on to play another small-town lawyer in the TV series, Hawkins (1973-1974). In addition to Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Arthur O'Connell and George C. Scott), Best Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography, but lost in every category. Producer/Director: Otto PremingerScreenplay: Robert Traver (novel), Wendell Mayes Production Design: Boris Leven Cinematography: Sam Leavitt Film Editing: Louis R. Loeffler Original Music: Duke Ellington Cast: James Stewart (Paul Biegler), Lee Remick (Laura Manion), Ben Gazzara (Lieutenant Manion), Arthur O'Connell (Parnell McCarthy), Eve Arden (Maida Rutledge), George C. Scott (Claude Dancer), Kathryn Grant (Mary Pilant), Orson Bean (Dr. Smith), Murray Hamilton (Paquette).BW-161m.by Jeff Stafford Anatomy of a Murder - ANATOMY OF A MURDER - One of the Great Screen Courtroom Dramas December 8, 2011
Share Still the best courtroom drama ever, and perhaps director Otto Preminger's finest movie overall, 1959's Anatomy of a Murder never fails to reveal more complexities, no matter how many times one sees it. Robert Travers' tale of a murder trial in upstate Michigan attracted plenty of publicity for its detailed examination of an alleged rape and its racy (for the time) dialogue. Preminger frequently challenged the production code, but Anatomy of a Murder is an adult-oriented drama with integrity. The cast is also outstanding. James Stewart continues his 1950s string of morally ambiguous characterizations, while Ben Gazzara and Lee Remick play the defendant and his wife in a way that does not encourage our sympathy. Author Robert Travers (attorney John D. Voelker) based his story on a true crime from 1952. Lieutenant Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara) surrenders to part-time lawman George Lemon (Russ Brown) for killing Barney Quill, the owner of the local roadhouse. Ex- D.A. Paul Biegler (James Stewart) has been doing more fishing than law work lately. His secretary Maida (Eve Arden) urges him to defend Manion, if only to pay the bills. So does Paul's friend Parnell McCarthy (Arthur O'Connell), a failed attorney who needs a good reason to stop hitting the bottle. Paul takes the job even though Manion admits to killing Quill under circumstances that allow little leeway for mercy -- he stalked and shot the barkeep after Mrs. Laura Manion (Lee Remick) came home to report that she'd been raped. Paul must deal with Manion's surly attitude as well as his wife Laura's highly promiscuous nature -- she practically propositions Paul on their first meeting. The new D.A. brings in a 'big gun' from Lansing to combat Paul in the courtroom, Asst. State Atty. General Claude Dancer (George C. Scott). McCarthy does research while Paul looks for a weak spot in the prosecution's case. He finds his opportunity with Barney's bartender Alphonse Paquette (Murray Hamilton), who becomes defensive whenever the alleged rape is mentioned. There's also Mary Pilant (Kathryn Grant), Quill's manager and rumored lover. Mary seems an overly reserved and quiet young woman -- is she hiding something?Anatomy of a Murder's approach is more akin to a docu-drama than a Hollywood potboiler. Filmed completely on location, the show features moody B&W cinematography and a sly jazz soundtrack by Duke Ellington that doesn't telegraph events or put labels on characters. Wendell Mayes' superb screenplay adaptation maintains an objectivity that would become Otto Preminger's trademark. In a courtroom drama of this kind we expect to see certain types: the idealistic defense attorney, the confused but brave defendant, the defendant's distraught, hopeful wife and various supporting characters that are either identifiably good or bad. Anatomy dispenses with these conventions. The defense attorney does not quote the Founding Fathers and the defendant is not seen praying for his deliverance. There is no conspiracy afoot to railroad the defendant. We instead have a group of characters that are just as 'unknowable' as the people in our own lives. Paul Biegler has won the respect of his staff, but he's also a competitive sharpie willing to use courtroom antics to get his way. He even calls himself a "simple country lawyer" to secure the sympathy of the jury. Biegler's interest in the law is strictly professional. He nudges and goads Lt. Manion into suggesting his own very doubtful defense tactic. That Biegler doesn't simply choose the plea himself suggests that he wants the plausible deniability of being able to say that Manion dictated the defense.Courtroom dramas typically dramatize the search for the truth behind a crime, but Anatomy of a Murder shows how justice can take a back seat to other considerations. No one reveals their true self. Manion is a belligerent man with a strong jealous streak. He shows Laura little affection, leading us to wonder if she invented the rape story, and that her own husband inflicted her bruises and blacked her eye. Alphonse Paquette's outrage at the rape charge is no more credible than Fred and Laura's version of events. Although Biegler insists that there is no such thing as an unwritten law giving a man the right to retaliate on a point of honor, he successfully changes the "narrative" of the courtroom drama to suit his client's case. By the halfway mark the big issue being debated is not the killing, but whether or not Laura Manion was raped. The judge may direct the jury to disregard Paul's leading statements, but the lawyer persists. Biegler is not subverting justice but merely performing his job in a professional manner. The functional ambiguity in these characterizations made Anatomy seem far more sophisticated and subtle than most other dramas of its time. James Stewart wears his part like an old shoe. Many of his older films reserved at least one grandstanding "Stewart speech" for the actor. This script allows him to channel that habit as a deliberate smokescreen for the courtroom. Ben Gazarra's Manion seems to have an inner rage bottled up inside. Lee Remick's Laura is a real puzzle: is she just a cheap tease, or is she really a manipulative sharpie, using her charms to distract Paul Biegler? Preminger's casting of the supporting roles is inspired. Relative screen newcomer George C. Scott makes his big shot legal eagle into a preening intimidation machine. Murray Hamilton hides a streak of loyalty and decency behind his unfriendly manner. Kathryn Grant is particularly well cast. Her lack of deep responses to what should be a terribly personal tragedy keeps us guessing at her true nature. Is she really as innocent as she seems? What was her relationship to the dead man, actually?The director reveals his liberal credentials with his casting of real-life attorney Joseph N. Welch as the honest, law-loving judge who hears the case. Welch spoke the famous words that brought down Joe McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy hearings: "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" The likeable Welch, a non-actor, brings an authentic feel to the courtroom scenes.In his subsequent films Otto Preminger applied his standoffish, let-the-audience-work directing style to a string of much larger epic stories, that often had too many characters and diffuse plotlines: Exodus, Advise and Consent, The Cardinal, In Harm's Way. The casting wasn't always inspired and the scripts varied in quality. But none attempted Anatomy's cautious, non-judgmental approach to character.The Criterion Collection's Blu-ray of the classic Anatomy of a Murder benefits greatly from the deluxe presentation. The B&W movie is over fifty years old yet does not seem at all dated. The HD widescreen transfer emphasizes Preminger and cameraman Sam Leavitt's careful compositions. Almost every shot has more than one point of interest.A standard mono soundtrack is present along with a new alternate 5.1 remix. Disc producer Susan Arosteguy's new video extras offer a number of short featurettes: on Duke Ellington's music, graphic designer Saul Bass's titles and on-set photos taken by Gjon Mili. A 1967 TV show debate between Otto Preminger and William F. Buckley is present, along with newsreel footage from the location. The movie's creative original trailer shows Preminger seemingly in competition with Alfred Hitchcock ... like a bailiff in a court, he swears in each of his actors to tell the truth!Preminger Biographer Foster Hirsch offers his perceptive views on Anatomy, restating research and opinions from his book. Preminger was allowed to keep most of his controversial vocabulary but was induced to substitute the word "violation" for the more graphic "penetration". Also present is part of an unfinished documentary called Anatomy of "Anatomy" that gives us an intimate look at the group of actors, technicians and artists that convened in the remote Northern Michigan location. An insert booklet contains an essay by Nick Pinkerton and a Life magazine article on Joseph N. Welch. The retired lawyer said he took the role "because it looked like that was the only way I'd ever get to be a judge."For more information about Anatomy of a Murder, visit The Criterion Collection. To order Anatomy of a Murder, go toTCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson Anatomy of a Murder - ANATOMY OF A MURDER - One of the Great Screen Courtroom Dramas Still the best courtroom drama ever, and perhaps director Otto Preminger's finest movie overall, 1959's Anatomy of a Murder never fails to reveal more complexities, no matter how many times one sees it. Robert Travers' tale of a murder trial in upstate Michigan attracted plenty of publicity for its detailed examination of an alleged rape and its racy (for the time) dialogue. Preminger frequently challenged the production code, but Anatomy of a Murder is an adult-oriented drama with integrity. The cast is also outstanding. James Stewart continues his 1950s string of morally ambiguous characterizations, while Ben Gazzara and Lee Remick play the defendant and his wife in a way that does not encourage our sympathy. Author Robert Travers (attorney John D. Voelker) based his story on a true crime from 1952. Lieutenant Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara) surrenders to part-time lawman George Lemon (Russ Brown) for killing Barney Quill, the owner of the local roadhouse. Ex- D.A. Paul Biegler (James Stewart) has been doing more fishing than law work lately. His secretary Maida (Eve Arden) urges him to defend Manion, if only to pay the bills. So does Paul's friend Parnell McCarthy (Arthur O'Connell), a failed attorney who needs a good reason to stop hitting the bottle. Paul takes the job even though Manion admits to killing Quill under circumstances that allow little leeway for mercy -- he stalked and shot the barkeep after Mrs. Laura Manion (Lee Remick) came home to report that she'd been raped. Paul must deal with Manion's surly attitude as well as his wife Laura's highly promiscuous nature -- she practically propositions Paul on their first meeting. The new D.A. brings in a 'big gun' from Lansing to combat Paul in the courtroom, Asst. State Atty. General Claude Dancer (George C. Scot