Anatomy of a Murder [1959]

Otto Preminger turned this 1959 courtroom drama, based on the popular novel, into terrific adult drama. James Stewart stars as a small-town lawyer who defends an army officer (Ben Gazzara) accused of murdering a bartender who assaulted his wife (Lee Remick). The taut script, large performance by Stewart, and then-daring elements of the story (words like "panties" are spoken in the context of discussing a sex crime) give the action a certain immediacy--which you don't find very often in today's movies about jurisprudence. Nice work by Remick and Gazzara, as well as George C. Scott, Arthur O'Connell, and real-life judge Joseph N. Welch, who plays the judge in this film. A very good experience all around. --Tom Keogh

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