(Review originally written at 8 November 2010)

This movie doesn't try to get too complicated or smart with its themes or issues and the case in this movie, along with its characters seem like very random and standard ones. This is what mostly makes "Anatomy of a Murder" such a simple, great and effective one.

What I like about this movie is that it's a movie without any high morals or a strong message in it. It's just a movie about a random case and the lawyer just takes the case because it's a case. He doesn't feel that strong to, at the cost of everything, try to proof the innocence of his client and he doesn't get emotionally involved with the case or any of its key players, like often movies normally try to attempt. Movies more often try to get you behind the defendant, or else at least his attorney and feel strongly for the case. But in this case the murder suspect isn't presented as being either totally innocent or not. He even isn't that sympathetic of a character and you question his motives and his defense, during his trail, at times throughout the movie.

It's a movie that doesn't really sidetrack with its story and it's being kept as straight-forward as possible all. So no odd occurrences happening in this movie, that are unlikely to ever happen in real life. This, together with its absence sense of morality, together with guilt and compassion, make this movie a mostly throughout realistic one. This works really pleasant for the movie and really helps to get you drawn into the story and its characters.

I basically love all court room themed movies and this movie has pretty much everything present I want from such a movie. Granted that this is the sort of movie that would had not been as good or interesting to watch if it had a completely unknown and bad cast in it.

So yes, the movie definitely benefits from the presence of James Stewart, as the movie its defense attorney and it also has a quite solid supporting cast. Quite fun to also see George C. Scott and Ben Gazzara in some of the more early roles out of their career. Seems that Scott was still holding back a bit, since he didn't had of course that much of a status yet as an actor. It's probably one of the more sophisticated and 'clean, quiet', roles out of his career but it was also really great to see him like that for a change and it at the same time also shows his range and versatility as an actor, since he was great in this movie as well, playing this sort of character.

For its time it also was a quite daring movie, regarding some of its, still at the time controversial subjects. The story is also a rape case, so it features lines regarding that subject as well. Of course rape was an already known issue at the time but it wasn't something that really got featured that explicitly yet in any sort of movie at the time, simply because it was something at the time that you just didn't really talked about. Again an example of how simple and effectively straight-forward the movie was being.

Just like its story, the movie is also being kept simple in its style. No fancy tricks or out of the ordinary sequences and set up here, just some plain, good old average film-making, like you would learn at film-school.

One great and effective movie within its genre.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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