This post was originally posted at The New Democrat Plus
I saw Anatomy of a Murder last week on TCM and Robert Osborne described the movie as a very serious, or deeply serious, or something to that effect. But if you are familiar with Jimmy Stewart and a lot of his movies, his movies tend not to be that serious. Similar to Cary Grant because of how spontaneously funny they both were especially with improvisation. Sure Anatomy is about a very serious topic which of course is about a man accused of murdering a man who just raped his wife. An Army Lieutenant at that and very important person in his community. But there’s a lot of humor with funny people all throughout the movie.
And I think that is what I love most about this movie. They deal with very serious subjects which are murder and rape of course. But sex in the late 1950s when the country was about to change dramatically culturally and you could already see signs of that change by 1959 with the Rock and Roll Generation. And that is what this movie deals with which are very serious subjects, but they take a very humorous look at them with a lot of sarcasm and wisecracks. Including with the judge played by Joe Welch and the two lead attorney’s played by George Scott the lead prosecutor and Jimmy Stewart the lead defense lawyer.
Anatomy of a Murder at least a first is about a rape. But they don’t show that part. A women played by Lee Remick having a good time at a bar and ends up walking home and offered a ride by the owner of the bar and he ends up raping her. Her husband finds out about it later that night and goes to the bar to confront the man about it. And ends up shooting and killing him for it. Under most circumstances that would be a clear case of first degree murder, or at least second degree murder. But Paul Biegler played by Stewart goes with a temporary insanity plea and that becomes his main defense.
I first saw this movie about a year ago and it is already one of my favorite movies of all-time. Seen it three or four times since because of the versatility of the movie. Dealing with very serious subjects in the movie and yet everyone plays a comedian at least at some point in the movie. Which is typical for a Jimmy Stewart movie and this movie has a great cast as well. With George Scott, Ben Gazzara, Lee Remick, Arthur O’Connell and many others. And this movie gives its viewers a very good lock at the court system and what it is like to be on trial. And try such a big legal case.