Monday, September 08, 2008

Movie Review-"Anatomy Of A Murder"

Forgive the intrusion of a non-Political post. I need a breather from all of that.
I just finished watching “Anatomy Of A Murder” starring Jimmy Stewart and Lee Remick, and it is as powerful as I’d remembered.
Otto Preminger was a masterful director, making a tight, interesting movie, based (follow me on this) on a novel, based in turn on an actual murder case in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1952. The novelist Robert Travers was actually John D. Voelker, the defense attorney, here portrayed by Jimmy Stewart.
That is not the only weaving of reality with movie fantasy in this picture. The judge is played by Joseph Welch, a lawyer who had stood up against Joe McCarthy, the nemesis of Communists and fellow travelers and I did say that this was going to be a non-political post, so, moving on, Lee Remick was not supposed to star in the movie. Preminger had wanted Lana Turner, who supposedly went all ‘diva’ demanding costume changes which weren’t right for the character. She was booted, and Remick stepped up from a lesser role now played by Kathryn Grant, who was soon to marry Bing Crosby.
A little more weaving of reality: I’ve stayed in the Big Bay Inn, in Big Bay, Michigan. It is called the Thunder Bay Inn in the movie, owned by the murder victim; some scenes of the movie were shot in the Big Bay Inn. They sold the movie in their gift shop.
A little weaving of unreality: I love the music of Duke Ellington, who created the soundtrack for the movie; he has a cameo as “Pig-eye”, playing piano with Stewart. “Pig-eye” and his trio would never have been found in the U.P. in the 1950’s. In Preminger’s Hollywood version of the U.P., yes, but in reality, no.
Their inclusion, along with Welch’s judge, are affectations of the director Preminger. Just as off-putting was the picture of Lenin on the wall in Paul Biegler’s (Stewart’s ) law office. But I promise, no politics in this post.
George C. Scott is the legal adversary of Biegler, called up from the state capitol to take over for the county prosecutor who was overmatched. Scott is great at making you hate his character; all that he was missing was the Snidely Whiplash moustache and top hat.
If you’ve seen it, you probably like this movie. I know I’ve mentioned it here before as one of Stewarts best roles; if you haven’t seen it, look it up.

No comments: