Anatomy of a Murder: Hers & His Perspectives
For the fifth installment in our 2023 Classic Couple Movie Challenge, we offer our take on Anatomy of a Murder (1959).
Anatomy of a Murder was a new, classic discovery for me. Until this challenge, I had not seen it from start to finish. And now I question what I’ve been doing with my time, especially as an ardent Jimmy Stewart fan.
The story, based on a true crime and trial, fascinates. You can’t help but want to know if the murderer, who is admittedly guilty, will get off and get away with it. There’s a rawness and a seediness to the crimes themselves, rape and murder. The film “goes there” with language that somehow passed the Hollywood censors in 1959. The characters are likable and despicable at the same time, demonstrating the central theme that good and evil reside in each of us. Anatomy of a Murder is gritty and enthralling. I could not look away.
The character of the wife, Laura Manion, played by Lee Remick, is, for me, the lynchpin in Anatomy of a Murder. She’s the master manipulator, a sashaying seductress and boozy bombshell one minute and an innocent victim and devoted housewife the next. And just when you think one of the men has it over on her, you realize they don’t. She’s manipulating all of them. In every interaction. There isn’t a moment when she is not in control of the situation and in command of herself. It’s stunning to behold and whenever Laura (Lee) is in a scene, you can’t take your eyes off of her.
Lee Remick was nominated for a 1960 Golden Globe for the role. That she was passed over for the 1960 Academy Awards is a shame. Her performance is hard to shake as one of the great femme fatale roles in movie history.