A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Helping those in need, serving justice. However, there is some ambiguity about who is honest and who is not.
Positive Role Models
Paul Biegler is a hardworking and honest attorney but has dated ideas about gender roles. Other characters are less reliable.
The cast and crew are predominantly White, male, and American, with some females and people of color in supporting and minor roles. Women frequently ordered around, dominated, and appraised by men. Derogatory comments made about Irish people. Director and producer Otto Preminger was an Austrian-American.
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Violence & Scariness
Woman discusses being beaten by a man. Bruising to the eye. References to coercion, rape, and murder. Scuffles involve shoving and pushing. Threats of violence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Reference and discussion of sex as part of a legal trial. Flirting. Males frequently objectify female character based on her appearance.
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Language used includes negative comments about Irish people. Also "hell," "bitch," and "damn."
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Products & Purchases
Character criticized for their spending on non-essential items.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink liquor and beer in moderation, smoke cigarettes and cigars throughout. Reference to drinking alcohol to excess. Character causes an accident while driving under the influence.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Anatomy of a Murder is a classic 1959 courtroom drama about a murder case with themes around rape and domestic abuse. Former district attorney Paul Biegler (James Stewart) is a sympathetic character who is skilled and inquisitive in his work. In this case, he must defend a U.S. soldier, Lt. Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), who is on trial for murdering a man he alleges raped his wife, Laura Manion (Lee Remick). Both Manions are less sympathetic characters, which provides the plot with much of its intrigue. No strong violence is shown on-screen, but the nature of the trial entails lengthy discussions of rape and murder. Domestic violence is also normalized and even excused in some scenes. Language is only occasional but includes women being called a "bitch." Like many movies released in the '50s, there is very little diversity and men hold professional roles while women are often subservient to them. Laura is frequently judged and praised for how she looks. Reflective of the era, smoking is frequent throughout. Characters also drink in bars and at home, mostly in moderation. But one character is living with an alcohol use disorder and drives while intoxicated with negative results. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This vintage courtroom tale thrives on ambiguity and doesn't give its audience any easy answers. As grandstanding attorney Paul Biegler, Stewart embraces the theater of Anatomy of a Murder's pivotal trial, with George C. Scott similarly impressive in an early role as the waspish opposing counsel. But even Biegler is occasionally knocked off balance by Lee Remick's Laura Manion. Despite frequently being shown to be the victim of 1950s misogyny and skepticism toward alleged rape victims that still persists today, she is far from passive, and provides the movie with many of its twists and turns. Ben Gazzara's performance as Laura's on-trial husband -- the volatile soldier, Manny -- rounds out a cast of screen legends who command attention. With no character shown to be faultless, the movie's real masterstroke is to expose the messiness of criminal trials and America's divides. Some of the lengthier courtroom scenes require endurance, but it remains a story that's influenced legal dramas for seven decades and counting.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.