A great courtroom drama where the good guy is someone defending an obviously guilty man. And there's no moral conundrum over what is right and wrong, because this film recognizes that right and wrong (and morality itself) are only human constructs, and the truth of the matter is that no one is good or bad, people are many things.
A lesson in creating drama and tension through nothing but smart dialogue. Uncertainty hangs over proceedings and adds to the sense of vagueness emanating from the justice system. Three lawyers wrangle over the law as much as they can within their boundaries and we're left unsure of both the crime and the jury's decision.
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.