Tribute to Anatomy of a Murder:
On Big Hollywood, Kurt Schlichter has a tribute to my all time favorite lawyer movie: Anatomy of a Murder. Read the whole thing, and watch the trailer, but here is a taste:
The plot is simple. Small-town lawyer Paul Biegler (Stewart), who is more concerned with fishing than his practice, is talked into meeting Army lieutenant Fred Manion, who is sitting in jail for the murder of the man the soldier claims raped his wife Laura (The hotter-than-hot Remick). Beigler takes the case, and faces off with Claude Dancer (Scott), the ace prosecutor sent in from the big city to chalk up yet another conviction. There is much more to the story -- the movie is a brisk two hours forty minutes long -- but there's no sense in going into the details here. You just need to know this: Jimmy Stewart goes up against George C. Scott in court. Case closed.The trailer is just too good not to embed here
The sparks fly in the courtroom under the direction of Otto Preminger, the enfant terrible of 50s and 60s Tinseltown, but the interesting part (at least for a lawyer) is that the film covers all aspects of the trial, in and out of the courtroom. Cases are often won not in front of the jury but hunched over a dusty book of old cases (or, today, in front of a computer screen looking at precedent online), and Anatomy doesn't hesitate to show the hard work involved in putting up a defense.
That sounds dull as dirt, but Anatomy is anything but. Stewart is helped by his burned out, alcoholic mentor Parnell, played perfectly by Arthur O'Connell. His character is funny, irascible, sad and, in the end, redeemed. O'Connell even manages to steal scenes from Jimmy Stewart while snagging a best Supporting Actor nomination for himself (Stewart and Scott both earned Oscar nominations as well).
Preminger was known for the pushing boundaries, and he does it again here. This was 1959, and audiences must have been in for a shock not only hearing a frank discussion of topics like sexual climax and seminal fluid on the big screen but hearing it come from the mouth of George Bailey himself. But it's not exploitation -- it's reality, and there is nothing wrong with adults viewing adult subject matter.