Wonderworks Moving Pictures: Day 10

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The film for today was Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder. Best discussion we’ve had following the film. I write here assuming everyone has seen the films I’m discussing, which I shouldn’t do. Many have seen this envelope pushing court room drama and others haven’t. The story features Jimmy Stewart playing a past his prime small town lawyer. He seems content to spend his days fishing and his nights drinking with a fellow lawyer. His companion spends his days drinking and then his evening drinking some more. That lifestyle changes with Stewart is contacting by Mrs. Manion, played by the beautiful Lee Remick, asking to hire Stewart to represent her husband, played by Ben Gazzara. Her husband has killed a man. There is no question about that. He says that his wife came home and had been raped and that was his reason for murdering her attacker.

What follows is a detailed look at the court case, using rather frank language to discuss the crimes committed. The film never answers some questions and leaves the audience to sort things out. After the film was over I asked the class how many thought Lee Remick’s character had been assaulted or is she had consensual relations and lied to her husband. The split was about 40% for assault, 40% for the lie and %20 undecided. Pretty cool when a film can leave you wondering.

They even liked the Jazz score by the legendary Duke Ellington who makes a cameo as saloon owner and piano player Pie Eye. One student thought it was an unexpected choice bu that it worked well.

Next time you have 2 hours and 40 minutes to kill, check out the Criterion BluRay release.

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