18 October, 2013

Anatomy of a Murder




There are movies that I watch at least once a year. Movies that, even though I have them on DVD, if they're on the tube, I watch them anyway. One of these is Anatomy of a Murder – a 1959 courtroom drama by Otto Preminger. Anatomy is THE courtroom drama.

I was only 11 in '59, growing up in a Chicago suburb. So, I didn't see Anatomy in the theatre when it came out. Chicago, interestingly, banned the movie until Preminger took the city to court.

I did see it on the big screen almost a decade later, however, at the Clark Theatre in the Loop. The Clark was a 'grind house' in the late '60s (running a different double feature every day). The Clark was in the Loop near Clark and Madison; not to be confused with the current Century Cinema (on Clark) further north, just past Diversey.

I've embedded the trailer for the movie at the top of this post. With a Grammy-winning jazz score by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn (there's Billy again), you need to do yourself a favour and see the film.

The judge in the movie is played by real-life lawyer, Joseph Welsh. Welsh was counsel representing the Army in what came to be known as the Army-McCarthy Hearings. Welsh took on Senator McCarthy regarding McCarthy's attempt to smear the name of a young lawyer in Welsh's law firm. Sadly, Welsh passed away a year after Anatomy of a Murder came out.

Anatomy was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, 3 Golden Globes, and 3 BAFTAs – didn't win any of them.

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