This gripping, envelope-pushing courtroom potboiler, the most popular film from Hollywood provocateur Otto Preminger, was groundbreaking for the frankness of its discussion of sex—more than anything else, it is a striking depiction of the power of words.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
How do I even begin to convey the richness of this film? Preminger's aesthetic is profoundly ethical in that it conveys by way of cinematic movement of many kinds the disorder of perspective. Camera movements are rigorous & contain an uncanny ability to remember. Space dissected, reassembled, then demolished. Words & matter--talismans, timepieces--are imbued with an overwhelming significance. What indeed is a soul?
Preminger's best is both a wonderful court drama and one of my favorite black comedies in cinema. Personally, I don't feel like the way this film used adult language makes it feel aged at all. If anything, it almost serves as another comedic element, as the film almost seems to mock people's sensitivity towards these words as if they are little children who just learned to swear. Highly recommended.
One of the best courtroom dramas. If Rashomon was about how, when it comes to the law, truth is unknowable, Anatomy is about how truth is irrelevant. The legal proceeding is itself a kind of show, like acting, or filmmaking. One small thought: as glad as I am that Preminger gave them a cameo, I'm still not sure what Duke Ellington and a hot jazz combo were doing in upstate Michigan. A masterpiece.
Undoubtedly groundbreaking in its day, both for its thematic daring and the questions it asks of the nature of justice. It also has a cast to die for, a tight script, great score and all round sophistication as a piece of cinema. And yet... maybe it's the coolness of Preminger's directorial style that leaves me feeling unsatisfied - I don't know, but the end result is a film I admire but cannot love.
There have been plenty of courtroom dramas on film, but I imagine few are quite as meticulous and complete as Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder. With the ever excellent, likable and natural James Stewart at the helm the legal process is given the full treatment. It's not overly dramatised or afraid to play the long game. Instead we're shown the gamesmanship and idiosyncrasies of justice, and it's fascinating.
There is nothing wrong this film. The script is fine, the direction tight, the cast on point, especially Jimmy Stewart. I wasn't bored and I thought the tone and pace was excellently handled. It just failed to stir me in any great way. I'm struggling to even find something interesting to write about it...