They sure don’t make courtroom dramas like they used to. And like a star witness at a sensational trial, Criterion’s new edition of Anatomy of a Murder is here to provide irrefutable proof. This 1959 film by maverick producer-director Otto Preminger stands among the best examples of the genre, and still earns the respect of legal professionals for its authentic and multifaceted portrayal of the American legal system, warts and all. The film also has cultural significance for its frank discussion of sexuality, which Preminger used to break the Hays Code by which Hollywood then practiced self-censorship. Most important, it’s still a real pleasure to watch, from Saul Bass’s gorgeous title sequence to Duke Ellington’s witty original score — not to mention Jimmy Stewart’s insightful and morally ambiguous take on a smart small-town lawyer. Image quality is nothing short of astonishing. Transferred from a new print culled from the original camera negative, this Blu-ray reminds us why black-and-white used to mean a thousand subtle shades of grey. Provided is a win-win choice between the punchy original mono soundtrack and a spacious new 5.1 mix. And the no-nonsense extras provide all the context one could hope for to enhance the experience of a classic.
Video: 1080p, 1.85:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: New interview with Otto Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch; interview with critic Gary Giddens about Duke Ellington’s score; a look at the relationship between graphic designer Saul Bass and Preminger with Bass biographer Pat Kirkham; newsreel footage from the set; excerpts from a 1967 episode of Firing Line, featuring Preminger in discussion with William F. Buckley Jr.; excerpts from the work-in-progress documentary Anatomy of "Anatomy": The Making of a Movie; behind-the-scenes photographs by Life Magazine's Gjon Mili; trailer; printed booklet. Studio: Criterion.
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