Friday, September 14, 2012
Blogging Flashback: Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
****REPOSTED FROM THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH NEW EDITS AND COMMENTS****
Twisted and convoluted, this movie lived up to its hype as the best courtroom drama ever.
It's rare when I don't love Jimmy Stewart, even though 90% of his roles are variations on the same, vaguely country bumpkinish theme. He was at his entertaining best here, and he really took what should have been just a good movie and made it great. Whoever picked him up as leading man did something incredibly right. As a genre, courtroom dramas can be seriously hit or miss, and for me, the charisma of the star really makes or breaks any success the movie has.
On top of the excellent casting, I loved the story. Granted, it's not really hard to take a series of juicy tidbits (and by the standards of the 50s, some of this was ridiculously juicy and scandalous, even) and make an incredible story out of it. My interest in the story is helped along by the local-ness of the tale, which happened not too far from where I write this, although it did happen long before I was born. But, even if this had happened in some place I had no tie to, this would have caught my attention.
The movie's kind of long. If you're like me, TV has made it so your attention span can be measured out into neat half-hour segments, and the near-three hour timer on this was a bit rough.
The scandalous and risqué nature of the film felt sort of contrived. Intellectually, I know people were much the same back then as they are now, and there wasn't anyone I felt would have been significantly out of place in a modern setting, but when mixed with the chronological and social cues in the film, a lot of the characters just didn't really make sense to me.
Finding the key to a pretty heinous crime in a laundry chute is not okay. I think most criminals are a wee bit smarter than that.