For Reel

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
January 4, 2012, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Otto Preminger

Otto Preminger was no stranger to controversy. Making a career out of pushing the boundaries of censorship with films such as The Moon is Blue and The Man with the Golden Arm, his Anatomy of a Murder is perhaps the most shocking picture released during the Production Code era. Of course, the Code, at this point, was crippled – films like Psycho would follow shortly, and the Code’s death knell would ultimately come with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966. Stewart’s performance ranks with his finest, and, as a courtroom drama, the film presents one of the grittiest, most cynical looks at the American judicial system. Without considering the morale implications of the case, Stewart utilizes whatever tactics he can for the benefit of his own self-interest. Atticus Finch he is not. This film is also a nice touchstone in examining the immediate future of Hollywood – Stewart is as classical as it gets, however his persona has transitioned into a much bleaker, cerebral one, and here he stars alongside emerging talents such as Ben Gazzara and George C. Scott, who would play important roles in the coming decades as Hollywood ushered in a new era of filmmaking.

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