Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

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Released 19-Sep-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo-With Soundtrack
Gallery-Poster-Original Advertising
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-A Few Good Men, Philadelphia, Guess Who's ComingTo Dinner
Trailer-Mr Smith Goes To Washington
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 154:01 (Case: 160)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Otto Preminger

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring James Stewart
Lee Remick
Ben Gazzara
Arthur O'Connell
Eve Arden
Kathryn Grant
George C. Scott
Orson Bean
Russ Brown
Murray Hamilton
Brooks West
Ken Lynch
John Qualen
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Duke Ellington

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Back in 1959, sex was not discussed in polite society and even a word such as panties was considered rude. This film uses the word panties quite regularly, along with terms like spermagenesis. When it was released in 1959 it was considered to be quite provocative and in fact was banned in Chicago. Jimmy Stewart's father took out an ad in the local newspaper telling people not to see it. Despite this it was very well received critically and was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Screenplay.

    Obviously, today this film is not very controversial at all, being very tame compared to films with similar subject matter made today. Despite this, it is still an interesting and entertaining film, with a very strong screenplay (despite probably being a little too long) and some great acting performances, especially from Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick and George C. Scott. The film centres around a murder trial involving Lt Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), a jealous and potentially violent army officer accused of murdering Barney Quill, the owner of a local hotel (The Thunder Bay Inn). According to Manion's wife, Laura (Lee Remick), Barney raped and beat her on the night that Lt Manion killed him. Manion claims temporary insanity as his defence. Laura is a bit of a lush and flirts with many of the men around town. She was at the Thunder Bay Inn drinking with Barney on the evening involved.

    When Frederick is arrested, Laura approaches a local lawyer in the small town where the murder occurred to represent her husband. He is Paul Biegler (Jimmy Stewart), the former District Attorney who lost his job during an election. Since losing the job he has set up a law practice, however, spends most of his time fishing and drinking with his old friend and fellow lawyer, Parnell McCarthy (Arthur O'Connell). Despite this he eventually agrees to take the case and begins to investigate.

    Once the trial starts, the new District Attorney, Mitch Lodwick (Brooks West) realises he is in for a fight and brings in hotshot city District Attorney Claude Dancer (George C Scott, very early in his career) to assist in the prosecution. Most of the film revolves around the legal manoeuvrings between defence and prosecution. Other characters who become involved include the Hotel manager, Mary Pilant, and the bartender, Alphonse Paquette.

    The film is certainly worth watching, and an entertaining courtroom drama, however some may find the old fashioned ideas related to rape a bit jarring and the running time of over 2 and a half hours may also challenge the ADD generation. Regardless, this is classic film, featuring another in a long line of great performances by Jimmy Stewart, a quality cast all round, and some excellent and amusing dialogue between the lawyers, all of which lift it above the slightly predictable plot. Another plus is an excellent jazz soundtrack from Duke Ellington who also appears in an uncredited cameo.

    Recommended for fans of courtroom dramas and films from this era.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good for a film of this age.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is very close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The picture was surprisingly clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. It should be noted that a comparison between the Region 1 version and this version on DVDBeaver indicates that the Region 1 is slightly sharper, however, it has its own issues. See below in the region comparison for more details. Shadow detail was reasonable for a film of this age but not spectacular. There was some light grain throughout which affected the clarity to some degree.

    The film is in black and white and shows very good contrast with clear delineation between blacks, shades of grey and white.

    There were a few artefacts to be seen including aliasing, mostly mild (for example at 41:40); mild telecine wobble such as at 118:20, and occasionally some black and white specks with one larger white one at 54:48. Surprisingly enough for a black and white film there was some cross colourisation at 41:20 on a roof.

    There are subtitles in 21 languages including English. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read, however there were some changes from the spoken word and summarisation.

    The layer change occurs at 72:18 and was not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is good but mono.

    This DVD contains five audio options, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French, German, Spanish & Italian.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand although it was sometimes a little indistinct. There was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Duke Ellington is great, full of Ellington's signature classy jazz piano and his orchestra.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu was simple, silent and 16x9 enhanced.


    Selected text filmographies are included for director Otto Preminger, Jimmy Stewart, George C Scott, Ben Gazzara, Lee Remick and Eve Arden.

Photo Gallery (8:52)

    This is an moving photo gallery where the camera pans over still shots of the production and stars of the film. It is set to music from the soundtrack. It probably spreads a few shots over too long with its nearly 9 minute running time. Presented 4x3.

Original Advertising

    5 posters from the original advertising campaign.

Theatrical Trailer (4:48)

    An interesting theatrical trailer which is hosted by the director, who proceeds to swear in the cast. Also includes quotes from the press and scenes from the film. Presented 4x3.


    Other trailers are included for A Few Good Men, Philadelphia, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and Mr Smith Goes to Washington.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie was released in Region 1 some years ago. The differences are as follows.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    On this basis I prefer the Region 4 version as it is in the Original Aspect Ratio.


    An interesting courtroom drama featuring excellent acting and some outdated attitudes.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The disc includes a small selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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