The Best Movie to Start at 11pm at the End of a Long Trial…

Anatomy of a Murder. David Denby put it best:

Otto Preminger’s “Anatomy of a Murder,” from 1959, is still the best courtroom drama ever made in this country, and, in its occasional forays out of the court, among the finest evocations of place—an Upper Peninsula Michigan resort area in the off-season, leafless, underpopulated, alcoholic, and forlorn. James Stewart, in one of his wonderful melancholy “late” performances, plays a former county prosecutor named Biegler, a lifelong bachelor who now spends his time with a non-practicing lawyer (Arthur O’Connell) and an unpaid secretary (Eve Arden), who sticks around for the wisecracks. The movie is leisurely, detailed, realistic, intensely companionable; you get a sense of how people exist at the margins of a profession without losing their dignity.

Although there are some distinctions between a murder defense in the 1950’s in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and modern-day patent litigation, the essence of trial technique is really not all that different.  Highly recommended.

Prosecutor: Lieutenant Manion, wasn’t your action against Barney Quill much the same thing as your action against Miller or the Lieutenant you slapped at the cocktail party — all done in the heat of anger, with a willful, conscious desire to hurt or kill?

Defendant: I don’t remember my action against Quill.

Prosecutor: How long had you known your wife was stepping out with Quill?

Defendant: I never knew anything like that. I trust my wife.

Prosecutor: You just occasionally beat her up for the fun of it, I suppose?

Defense Counsel: There has been nothing established to permit a question like that. He keeps trying to insinuate without ever coming to the point. Let him ask the Lieutenant, did he ever beat his wife.

Judge: I will sustain the objection. Do you want to re-phrase your question, Mr. Dancer?

Prosecutor: No thank you, Your Honor. I’ve finished.

[Tags]Otto Preminger, Anatomy of a Murder, David Denby[/Tags]

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