38 of 1001 Movies: Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Who knew that “panties” could be such a controversial word? A lot of people will accuse this movie of being outdated because of the perspective of women, and sexuality. While we have changed a bit I do think this movie is an interesting look into history. I’m not sure if adults will still snicker about the use of “panties”, but in this movie a whole courtroom begins to snicker at the use of the word. Anatomy of a Murder paved the way for other movies in the future to talk about sexuality.

Small-town lawyer, Paul Biegler has the opportunity to take on a tough case for lieutenant in the army, Fredrick Manion. Manion has been arrested after being accused of the murder of Barney Quil. Manion claims he only murdered him because his wife, Laura, said he raped her. Biegler agrees to defend him, but discovers this case will be a lot tougher than he thought when he finds that Manion has a violent reputation, and his wife is rumored to love the attention of men. Biegler believes he may have a loop whole in pleading not guilty by the idea of insanity if he can convince the jury.

For some reason 50s courtroom dramas have captivated me the few times I have watched them. 12 Angry Men is one notable film I’ve watched that proved to me I could find a genre interesting that I might have overlooked. The dialogue is fast paced in Anatomy of a Murder making the viewer just find intrigue quickly with the movie simply by the characters talking.

James Stewart is as good as ever as Paul Biegler. Stewart was probably most known to me for his role in It’s A Wonderful Life, but he proves in this film that he’s just as capable as making an endearing character in Paul. The flirtation between Paul and Laura was a lot of fun. Lee Remick as Laura is another great performance. She know she is hot stuff.  I think these two make the funnest parts of the movie though. Especially when Paul gets in the courtroom and starts stomping the prosecutors in their tracks.

Anatomy of a Murder has some good revelations and acting that make this movie something really special to watch. I know many might claim it’s outdated, but thinking to the 50s this film had to be edgy for it’s use of language regarding sexuality. I never thought I would hear characters openly discussing climaxing in that time. Plus, there is one thing that hasn’t changed about society’s view of women that was being used in this movie. We still debate whether women bring rape upon themselves by how they dress. This is probably the most ridiculous thing ever. No reason is an excuse to violate someone.

Rating 4 of 5

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