023 - Anatomy Of A Murder (1959)

Anatomy Of A Murder, on the outside looks like any other courtroom drama. It is easy to think that this American genre has been overdone so many times that it is difficult for any to seem unique or different.

Anatomy Of A Murder is similar to The Accused in that the aforementioned courtroom trial is based around the dodgy rape of a lady with a questionable reputation. Unlike many other films from this genre, the lawyer (James Stewart) is well aware that his client (Ben Gazzara) is guilty of the crime.
Theatrical Poster

The accused party is charged with the murder of the alleged rapist of his wife. His defence is simple; that he was not of sane mind at the time of the murder.

After introducing the characters, the film spends around 90% of the runtime in the courtroom, with James Stewart and George C. Scott - as the prosecutor - firing off emotive arguments towards each other. Both actors are perfect for the job and are thoroughly engaging, drawing the viewer into the finest details in the plot.

Because of the way that Stewart argues throughout the film, it is difficult not to side with him, even though the audience is fully in the knowledge that his client is guilty. As such, the ending is completely unpredictable.

Despite the beginning feeling a little lost compared with the rest of the film, it is still a drama of the highest quality and it makes a pleasant change from similar films that constantly drop in and out of court, breaking up the case in the process.

It may not be everyone's first choice, but certainly one of the best dramas I've seen.