Friday, 2 August 2013

Anatomy Of A Murder - Review # 3

Spine # 600
Available on DVD & Blu-ray
Special features:
  • New digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New alternate 5.1 soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition
  • New interview with Otto Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch
  • Critic Gary Giddins explores Duke Ellington’s score in a new interview
  • A look at the relationship between graphic designer Saul Bass and Preminger with Bass biographer Pat Kirkham
  • Newsreel footage from the set
  • Excerpts from a 1967 episode of Firing Line, featuring Preminger in discussion with William F. Buckley Jr.
  • Excerpts from the work in progress Anatomy of “Anatomy”
  • Behind-the-scenes photographs by Life magazine’s Gjon Mili
  • Trailer, featuring on-set footage
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Nick Pinkerton and a 1959 Life magazine article on real-life lawyer Joseph N. Welch, who plays Judge Weaver in the film
  • Cover based on a theatrical poster by Saul Bass

It has been over a week since I watched this film and I am still uncertain about my thoughts.  The overwhelming feeling is that I enjoyed the film but I don’t agree with morals of the story.  I guess it is hard for me to explain why without giving away a large chunk of the plot and outcome. 

The star of the show is Jimmy Stewart, who put in an Oscar nominated performance (one of 5 in his career).  In total the film was awarded 7 nominations but failed to pick up any statues. 

When the film was first released it caused controversy due its use of graphic (by 1950’s standards) terminology to describe sex, rape and ladies underwear!  The film is based on a true story and developed from a novel by Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker (alias Robert Traver).  Largely set in the actual Marquette County Courthouse we follow the trial of an Army soldier accused of murdering a man. 

Everyone in the film puts in decent performances and it has the feel of a real trial.  A character I really did enjoy was the sharp-witted Secretary to Paul Biegler (James Stewart).  You will probably recognise her as the Principal McGee from Grease. 

From the near start of the film you get to see how easy it is to manipulate the law to your own needs, and this is the part of the film I did not like.  I don’t like liars and this is what I feel the defence is based around, a lie.  That said, it does throw up an interesting question in regards to taking the law into your own hands.  Can you ever be justified when a serious crime has, allegedly, taken place prior?

The extras that come with the Criterion were helpful in understanding more about Otto Preminger, the Director and Producer of this film.  He had already had run-ins in regards to censorship of his films so the content of Anatomy Of A Murder did not come as a huge surprise to some.  I also enjoyed the theatrical trailer of the film, this starred Otto as a judge swearing in all the actors.

So that is Anatomy Of A Murder, a film very well acted and one which leaves you with a few questions about what is right and wrong.

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