January 14, 2011

Must Watch Before You Die #8: 'Anatomy of a Murder' (1959)

The first release of the year was a disappointment for me. I expected a lot from Rajkumar Gupta and his 'No One Killed Jessica'. The subject had the potential of a world-class film. But the best compliment it can generate is frankly 'good by Indian standards'. Still, there are reasons to be happy. The film is a certified hit. A decade ago, it was impossible to imagine a film like this could be made. Hindi cinema is changing, definitely.

But a lot needs to be done. A couple of days after 'Jessica', I watched a 2hr 40min courtroom trial drama. And I believe Otto Preminger's 'Anatomy of a Murder' is one of the best trial movies we will ever see.

The movie is a must watch for:
  • The unforgettable characters. The lady victim is promiscuity personified. We are not made to sympathize with her, but wonder at her state-of-mind. Her husband accused of the murder is a cool, composed armyman pleading not guilty on the grounds of insanity! And then we have the Judge and his sense of humour, the confident and suave prosecution lawyer, and our protagonist - the defense lawyer played by the ever-dependent James Stewart, who loves fishing possibly more than practicing law. Add to this the person whose murder we are dissecting. He is never seen, but you won't realize that.
  • The delightful and insightful detailing of the court proceedings and game of law. Based on a novel by a Supreme Court judge, it presents itself as a case, less sensationally projected as you would expect, but keeps you intrigued by its progression. You like chess? You like Test Cricket? You like cerebral entertainment? This is the movie for the weekend.


  1. I watched "No killed..." and found it so below average. Not a good film at all.

  2. Have you seen BR Chopra's Kanoon? Even the Vinod Khanna film on Nanvati?

  3. Here is my post on Kanoon, i loved the movie (in my opinion the best Hindi suspense movie I have seen):

    but havent watched the Vinod Khanna film

  4. as i mentioned.. jessica lacked the promo punch..!! the promo made me go and watch the film desperately with my friends... but though it was supposed to be a action packed film.. it still gave me little moments in between the film.. where i would feel.. the film isn't gripping me.. and i would wonder why.. :(
    the media is going gaga over the film... one of the best in indian cinema and all..

    if a movie is based on a social issue.. politically driven-much hyped-social issue, and you have an impressive star cast ( in fact something very new and encouraging star cast- 'all girls' for bollywood), and you style the film in a way... then there is no reason why a critic wouldnt like it... or wont be able to find faults in it..

    sadly jessica still didnt work for me at some level. but as you mentioned.. bollywood is moving ahead. we have taken our big steps. we are creating something new. and that makes me happy.!:)

  5. I don't know whether you have already seen Witness for Prosecution by billy wilder. It is also one of the best trial movie.
    NOKJ was disappointingly frivolous coming from someone who had made a brilliant non-nonsense Aamir.

  6. Yeah. "Witness for the Prosecution" is again an excellent film.

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