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Anatomy of a Murder (Criterion) (Blu-Ray)

Blu-ray
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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Product Description

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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

Product Description

A virtuoso James Stewart (Vertigo) plays a small-town Michigan lawyer who takes on a difficult case: that of a young Army lieutenant (The Killing of a Chinese Bookie’s Ben Gazzara) accused of murdering the local tavern owner who he believes raped his wife (Days of Wine and Roses’ Lee Remick). This gripping, envelope-pushing courtroom potboiler, the most popular film from Hollywood provocateur Otto Preminger (Laura), was groundbreaking for the frankness of its discussion of sex—more than anything else, it is a striking depiction of the power of words. With its outstanding supporting cast—including a young George C. Scott (Patton) as a fiery prosecuting attorney and legendary real-life attorney Joseph N. Welch as the judge—and influential jazz score by Duke Ellington, Anatomy of a Murder is a Hollywood landmark; it was nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture.

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New alternate 5.1 soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition
• New interview with Otto Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch
• Critic Gary Giddins explores Duke Ellington’s score in a new interview
• A look at the relationship between graphic designer Saul Bass and Preminger with Bass biographer Pat Kirkham
• Newsreel footage from the set
• Excerpts from a 1967 episode of Firing Line, featuring Preminger in discussion with William F. Buckley Jr.
• Excerpts from the work in progress Anatomy of “Anatomy”: The Making of a Movie
• Behind-the-scenes photographs by Life magazine’s Gjon Mili
• Trailer, featuring on-set footage
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Nick Pinkerton and a 1959 Life magazine article on real-life lawyer Joseph N. Welch, who plays the judge in the film



Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, Bad DVD April 29 2002
Format:DVD
This is a great courtroom drama, possibly one the finest. But the DVD, as a 1.33:1 ratio transfer, is a travesty and insult to Preminger's fine direction and mise en scene. If you need to see the film, please see it on DVD as the transfer is okay, definitely better than VHS, but could be better.
WHen the widescreen (1.85:1) comes out, get that instead. I, for one, thought I'd picked up the original aspect ratio and was quite excited. Now i'm a little upset that the studios are releasing so called "classic films" without treating them with any of the care that classics, like this film and others, so truly deserve. SHAME ON YOU COLUMBIA!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Luigi
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Un film phare parmi ces films hors du commun que le cinéma américain a produit. James Stewart excellent. Il faut compter ce film parmi les incontournables de tout cinéphile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wears surprisingly well Aug. 22 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Otto Preminger, who produced and directed this fine courtroom drama starring James Stewart, Lee Remick, George C. Scott and Ben Gazzara, had a knack for translating best-selling mid-cult novels to the screen (The Man with the Golden Arm (1955); Exodus (1960); Advise and Consent (1962) and others) usually in a nervy manner, sometimes heavy-handed, sometimes pretentious, but always worth a look. Part of his secret was star power. Like Hitchcock, he liked to go with big names supported by fine character actors. And part of his secret was his long experience in both the theater and films going back to the silent film era. He knew how to put together a movie. But more than anything it was his near-dictatorial control over the production (something directors seldom have today, and never in big budget films--Preminger's were big budget for his day) that allowed him to successfully capture the movie-going audience at midcentury.
This and Laura (1944) are two of his films that go beyond the merely commercial and achieve something that can be called art. Seeing this for the first time forty-three years after it was released I was struck by the fine acting all around and the sturdy, well-constructed direction. James Stewart's performance as the Michigan north country lawyer Paul Biegler might shine even more luminously than it does except for a certain performance by Gregory Peck three years later as a southern country lawyer in the unforgettable To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Lee Remick, in a frank, but imperfect imitation of Marilyn Monroe, co-stars as Laura Manion, the wife of army Lt. Frederick Manion (Gazzara) whom Bielger is defending on a murder charge. The defense is temporary insanity because the man he shot raped his wife.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Anatomy of a Murder Dec 16 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Good movie not just because of actors and plot but also because of background settings. Northern Michigan makes story real.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging! May 23 2013
By Allan R
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Jimmy Stewart at his best. There's a reason trial advocacy classes still show this as part of their curriculum, even decades later.
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5.0 out of 5 stars James Stewart Feb. 16 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
We have a great story, a great cast, and a great director. What more could one ask? Jimmy Stewart shows what it means to be a great actor and displays some examples during his court scenes. His timing is surperb and you forget that he is not, in fact, a lawyer but simply an actor. Jimmy Stewart fans know what I mean and those who are just beginning to explore this fine actor will find this an excellent example of his work.

There are no car chases, no bloody gun fights and no fancy special effects...just great acting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Think of it as a Courtroom Film Noir July 6 2004
By J
Format:DVD
The excellence is Anatomy of a Murder lies is how it doesn't try to cram itself down your throat. The movie takes its own sweet time telling an intelligent and challenging story. There really aren't any good guys here and there are no easy answers. That's the point of film noir. Everyone is bad in some way, everyone has motives, and happy endings rarely take place in real life. Very direct for a movie made in the late 50's. A woman's alleged rape and the murder of her alleged rapist by her husband is described repeatedly and in detail. James Stewart is surprisingly effective as a weary cynic who takes the case not because he thinks the accused is innocent or a swell guy but because he thinks he can win and get the guy off. After Stewart returned from the horrors of WWII, he turned away from the cheerful harmless fare of his younger days. It can be fairly said that he had two careers. His post war career is much more serious and mature. Introspective characters. Deeply troubled men. Obsessed men. Men of dubious morality and hard bitten practical values. Stewart never made a WWII movie. He didn't need to, he lived it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "I beg the court...let me cut into the apple" June 27 2004
Format:DVD
This film hooks you in the first minute with Saul Bass' brilliant titles and Duke Ellington's music, and then has you caught for the duration in the next few scenes; the dialogue is sharp and intelligent, and at the age of 50, Jimmy Stewart gives one of the best performances of his illustrious career, as Paul Biegler, an attorney who would rather be fishing than getting fees for his work. Stewart is so natural, so real, and so immensely likable. He's the kind of guy you wish you could have in your family, but wily enough to argue a good defense in court.
Lee Remick has just the right amount of provocative sensuality as Laura Manion to make one wonder what exactly happened on the "fateful night" in question.
After playing Southern belles in both "A Face in the Crowd" (1957) and "The Long Hot Summer" (1958), Remick was offered the role of Laura because Lana Turner, who was supposed to play the part, refused to wear an "off-the-rack" wardrobe, and wanted dresses designed by Jean Louis (hardly what a Army wife would be wearing). It was a big break for Remick, and she makes the most of it.
The entire supporting cast is superb: Ben Gazzara as the intense Lt. Manion, Arthur O'Connell as Biegler's assistant and friend, Eve Arden as Biegler's loyal secretary. George C. Scott is Dancer, the Assistant State Attorney, and Joseph N. Welch, who gained fame for being the Special Counsel for the Army in the Army-McCarthy Congressional hearings, is a delight as Judge Weaver. Duke Ellington makes a cameo appearance as Pie Eye, and even Muffy the beer drinking dog does a great job. Otto Preminger's direction flows at a lovely pace, with a balance between the dramatic tension and thoughtful scenes tinged with humor.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A legendary film
Otto Preminger was one of the most creative and brave directors of the american cinema in the fifties and sixties. Read more
Published on June 19 2004 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful and sensual courtroom drama
This tense courtroom drama combines elements of suspense, sensuality, comedy, and intellect to deliver a wonderfully captivating film. Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by L.M.W.
2.0 out of 5 stars Good movie, if you haven't read the book. Otherwise, lousy
I had the great misfortune of reading the book before watching the movie. The book was a masterpiece, arguably the best piece of courtroom fiction ever written. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars The Soldier's Wife
Otto Preminger is probably one of the least understood and under appreciated directors from the 1940's -1960's, but truth be known he was responsible for some of the most... Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2003 by MICHAEL ACUNA
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of Jimmy's Best! And Lee Remick Cinches The Deal!
This 1959 courtroom drama starring the incomparable Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorite Stewart films. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2003 by David Von Pein
1.0 out of 5 stars worst courtroom drama I have ever seen
Anatomy of a Murder is the worst court room drama I have seen. jimmy Stewart must be spinning in his grave whenever someone watches it. Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Anatomy of a Murder
One of the best courtroom mysteries ever. James Stewart is the perfect actor for any mystery movie. Whether he's acting for Alfred Hitchcock or in this case Otto Preminger.
Published on Sept. 2 2002
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