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Anatomy of a Murder(1959)
A small-town lawyer gets the case of a lifetime when a military man avenges an attack on his wife.
For more about Anatomy of a Murder and the Anatomy of a Murder Blu-ray release, see Anatomy of a Murder Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on February 19, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, George C. Scott, Orson Bean, Eve Arden
Director: Otto Preminger
» See full cast & crew
Anatomy of a Murder Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, February 19, 2012
Winner of Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival, Otto Preminger's "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include original theatrical trailer; video interview with writer writer Foster Hirsch; video interview with critic critic Gary Giddins; video interview with Saul Bass biographer Pat Kirkham; behind-the-scenes photographs; excerpts from a yet to be completed documentary film; and more. The Blu-ray also arrives with a 28-page illustrated booklet featuring writings by Nick Pinkerton and Ernest Havemann. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Former Michigan District Attorney now small-time lawyer Paul Biegler (James Stewart, It's a Wonderful Life, Harvey) is asked by his good friend Parnell Emmett McCarthy (Arthur O'Connell, The Poseidon Adventure, Fantastic Voyage) to defend Lieutenant Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara, Tales of Ordinary Madness, Husbands), a brutish and violent man, who has killed local bar owner Barney Quill after he apparently raped his beautiful wife Laura Manion (Lee Remick, Hard Contract, Days of Wine & Roses). Biegler reluctantly agrees because he needs money to pay his bills and wise-cracking secretary Maida Rutledge (Eve Arden, Mildred Pierce).
But immediately after he meets the Lieutenant, Biegler realizes that this would be a tough case to handle because his client has serious anger management problems. When he meets his wife, he is also surprised to discover that she does not fit the victim profile that could win the sympathy of the jury - she dresses provocatively, goes out alone and gets drunk, and does not mind seeing other men while her husband is in jail.
Army psychiatrist Dr. Matthew Smith (Orson Bean, Lola) examines the Lieutenant and quickly concludes that he must have killed Barney Quill because he was seized by an "irresistible impulse" - which means that immediately after he discovered that his wife was raped he was temporarily insane and therefore not responsible for his actions. Biegler then discovers that there is a precedent - in the past the Michigan Supreme Court has accepted "irresistible impulse" – which he could use to use to prove that his client is not a killer, at least not in the traditional sense of the word.
In the courtroom, Biegler faces District Attorney Mitch Lodwick (Brooks West), the man who ousted him from office, and Assistant State Attorney General Claude Dancer (George C. Scott, The Hustler), a smart and very aggressive young man who smells blood. Their battle is moderated by Judge Weaver (Joseph N. Welch, a former U.S. Army Head Council).
Based on John D. Voelker's novel, Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder is the quintessential courtroom drama, a fascinating, incredibly well researched, and impressively realistic film that carved open a seriously flawed legal system.
In 1959, the language the actors used in the courtroom was deemed so 'explicit' that for a short period of time the film was temporarily banned in Chicago, Illinois. However, a federal judge who saw it quickly lifted the ban.
The film is effectively divided into two large acts. In the first, Preminger introduces the key characters and highlights their strengths and weaknesses (only Biegler's courtroom opponents are omitted). Their interactions give the viewer a good sense of what their exact roles would be during the trial and what type of surprises there might be.
The second act focuses on the mastery of manipulation. Biegler and his two opponents engage in an impressive battle full of excellent twists and turns. What the men essentially do here is profile the Lieutenant and his wife and then try to convince the jury members to accept these profiles.
Ultimately, Anatomy of a Murder is not a film about a complex murder. It is about the process of creating and defending perceptions and expectations in a courtroom while supposedly seeking justice.
Note: In 1959, Anatomy of a Murder was nominated for Golden Lion Award and won Best Actor Award (James Stewart) at the Venice Film Festival. In 1960, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Anatomy of a Murder Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Otto Preminger's Anatomy of Murder arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"This new high-definition transfer was created on a Spirit 4K in 4K resolution from a new 35mm fine-grain master positive struck from the original camera negative at Cinetech laboratory in Valencia, California. The picture was restored at Technicolor in Los Angeles and Reliance MediaWorks in Burbank, California.
Restoration and remastering supervisor: Grover Crisp/Sony Pictures Entertainment, Los Angeles.
Mastering colorist: David Bernstein/Technicolor, Los Angeles."
The high-definition transfer is enormously impressive. Clearly, during the restoration process a variety of different issues were addressed in order to optimize image quality as best as possible - and it definitely shows. When projected, the film conveys spectacular depth and fluidity, while contrast levels remain stable from start to finish. Colors are so rich and lush that often times, when there is plenty of bright and strong light, they actually create the illusion that sharpness has been spiked up. Additionally, a layer of wonderfully resolved light grain is present throughout the entire film (there are no lumps of grain or problematic spots where coarse noise overtakes the grain). The high-definition transfer is also free of problematic banding or aliasing patterns. Lastly, there are absolutely no serious stability issues whatsoever. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked. Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Anatomy of a Murder Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 1.0 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original 35mm dialogue, music, and effects magnetic tracks at Chace Audio by Deluxe in Burbank. The 5.1 surround soundtrack was created at 24-bit from the original D/M/E tracks and the original stereo music recordings. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation."
The potent English LPCM 1.0 will undoubtedly surprise a lot of people. Legendary jazz star Duke Ellington's outstanding score is unusually bright, lush, and full of life. The dialog is also remarkably crisp, clean, and stable. Additionally, there is absolutely no background hiss trying to sneak in, while the tiny pops and cracks that are typically present on some of these older films have been completely removed.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 has a much better range of dynamics. This becomes quite obvious whenever Ellington's score is prominent (compare the bar sequence where James Stewart picks up the slightly inebriated Lee Remick and takes her back to her trailer). However, I still prefer the simpler mono track.
Anatomy of a Murder Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Anatomy of a Murder Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Director Otto Preminger's once very controversial courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder has never looked this good before. Fully restored and remastered under the supervision of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Grover Crisp, the film has literally been given a new life. A truly fantastic film, one of Hollywood's very best, still thought-provoking and relevant today. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Anatomy of a Murder Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Making Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder - March 1, 2012
Containing subject matter that was considered heavy for its time, Otto Preminger created a classic crime and courtroom drama that continues to entertain critics and fans alike. We go in-depth behind the scenes with a complete journal of a day's shooting, rare on-set ...
• Amazon Blu-ray Deal: Criterion's World on a Wire and Anatomy of a... - November 16, 2011
Following yesterday's Criterion Collection February Blu-ray announcements, Amazon has now listed those titles for pre-order, and two have special discounted prices. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's World on a Wire and Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder are on sale ...
• Criterion Blu-ray in February: Marker, Gosha, Dunham, Fassbinder,... - November 15, 2011
The Criterion Collection has posted their full roster of Blu-ray releases for February 2012. Titles include Chris Marker's La Jetée & Sans Soleil, Hideo Gosha's Three Outlaw Samurai, Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's World on a Wire, Otto ...
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