Anatomy of a Murder on the Big Screen in LA
I love the New Beverly Theatre in Hollywood for many reasons. One is for their popcorn, but another top reason is for their excellent programming. I’m constantly impressed with the quality and variety of films this little independent manages to continually provide to its voracious fan base. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the New Bev is very good about showing at least one classic (twenty years old or older) film a week. Their selections may vary from the eclectic to the popular, but they are always great films that deserve to be seen projected on the big screen (that’s right, they use real film stock - no digital projection here, kids!). And once again they have picked a timeless classic that has weathered the years well to become one of the all time best courtroom dramas ever depicted on celluloid: Anatomy of a Murder.
Anatomy of a Murder is one of the most interesting films of the 1950s. It’s a compelling drama set in a small town in the northern part of the mid-west where a man is put on trial for killing his wife’s accused rapist. Although this was a rather salacious plot for the time, the story is told in a very straight forward and matter of fact manner. Rather than showing the sensational events on screen (which was not permitted at the time) director Otto Preminger (Laura, Advise & Consent) relies upon the exceptional cast to convey the necessary information through their downplayed retellings, providing intrigue to what is said and unsaid.
Jimmy Stewart plays the humble lawyer who defends a murderer (Ben Gazzara) who depends on the so-called unwritten law of a husband to protect his family. That and the claim that he suffered temporary insanity after the victim raped his wife. As the ex-District Attorney Stewart is just as eager to find out the truth as he is to win the case. Especially when it turns out that the defendants wife (Lee Remick) is a lusty and free spirited woman who has a history of questionable behavior. And then there’s the ever enjoyable Eve Arden as Stewarts stalwart secretary, reliable character actor Arthur O’Connell as his crusty old mentor who likes to drink, and George C. Scott as the big city lawyer brought in special to help the local law beat Stewart.
I’m telling you, you just can’t go wrong with this film. Just take a look at what’s playing in any corporate theater in town and you’ll quickly realize that at double the price, Anatomy of a Murder is still hands down the best deal in town for your movie dollar this weekend. If you’re not thanking me for this suggestion after you’ve seen the film then I’ll sit through a marathon of sound blasting, eye piercing, 3D atrocities in penance. That’s how much I know you’ll love this movie, so don’t miss this opportunity to see it in one of the best revival houses in town, The New Beverly. But be forewarned - once you see a movie there it’ll be hard to go back to the multiplex.