Friday, December 10, 2010

TOP 300 MOVIES OF ALL TIME: #294-"ANATOMY OF A MURDER" (1959)

Otto Preminger,who directed this classic can be thankful that the final product in some respects redeems what may be the most overrated career as a director in film history. Preminger pushed the buttons in his day,but in seeking to annoy conventional morality of the time,he all too often failed to create enduring,classic,quality films with true substance."Anatomy Of A Murder" is an exception.

Ben Gazzara is on trial for murdering a man who was accused of raping his wife played by Lee Remick.Gazzara is clearly the jealous type and the motive for the murder is in doubt. Enter Jimmy Stewart as his lawyer,and assisted,when sober by Arthur O'Connell.Eve Arden is their secretary.



This movie is notable for controversy in its day because Jimmy Stewart's character places Lee Remick's panties as an exhibit for the defense. Stewart, throughout the film expresses suspicion about his client to Arthur O'Connell, but never permits it to deter an aggressive defense.

George C. Scott plays the prosecutor.He is as always exceptional.He was justly nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar,but lost out to Hugh Griffith who played the Arab in "Ben-Hur".Eleven years later he would win his Oscar for "Patton",but refuse.Years later,as Roger Ebert recalls at the prodding of his wife,the great Scott admitted he refused his Oscar,because he thought he should've won for "Anatomy Of A Murder".
This is a taut and overtly cynical courtroom drama that is in the highest ranks of the genre.

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