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Anatomy of a Murder (Criterion Collection)

225 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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 Features

New high-definition digital restoration

New interview with Otto Preminger biographer Foster Hirsc

Critic Gary Giddins explores Duke Ellington's score in a new interview

A look at the relationship between graphic designer Saul Bass and Preminger

Newsreel footage from the set

Excerpts from a 1967 episode of Firing Line, featuring Preminger

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 more


Product Details

  • Actors: James Stewart, Ben Gazzara, Lee Remick, George C. Scott
  • Directors: Otto Preminger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: February 21, 2012
  • Run Time: 161 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (225 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0068CEH5S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,889 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

136 of 142 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 9, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Based on the famous Traver novel, ANATOMY OF A MURDER is an extremely complex film that defeats easy definition. In some respects it is a social document of the era in which it was made; primarily, however, it is a detailed portrait of the law at work and the machinizations and motivations of the individuals involved in a seemingly straight-forward case--and in the process it raises certain ethical issues re attorney behavior and the lengths to which an attorney might go to win a case.

Paul Biegler (James Stewart) is a small-town lawyer who has recently lost a re-election for the position of District Attorney and who is down on his luck--when a headline-making case involving assault, alleged rape, and murder drops into his lap. As the case evolves, there is no question about the identity of the killer. But a smart lawyer might be able to get him off just the same and redeem his own career in the process, and with the aid of an old friend (Arthur O'Connell) and his formidable secretary (Eve Arden), Biegler sets out to do precisely that. Opposing him in the courtroom is Claude Dancer (George C. Scott), a high powered prosecutor who is equally determined to get a conviction... and who is no more adverse to coaching a witness than Biegler himself. The two square off in a constantly shifting battle for the jury, a battle that often consists of underhanded tactics on both sides.

The performances are impressive, with James Stewart ideally cast as the attorney for the defense, Ben Gazzara as his unsavory client, and a truly brilliant Lee Remick as the sexy and disreputable wife who screams rape where just possibly none occurred; O'Connell, Arden, and Scott also offer superior performances.
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77 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 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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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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Anatomy of a Murder (Criterion Collection)
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