[[quoteright:320:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/big_anatomy_of_a_murder_4116.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:320: Trust a simple country lawyer to behave unprofessionally at trial...he [[ObfuscatingStupidity knows what he is doing]] better than you do.]]

''Anatomy of a Murder'', produced in 1959, is an American CourtroomDrama directed by Creator/OttoPreminger and written by Wendell Mayes. The story was based on the novel of the same name written by "Robert Traver," the PenName of Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker; the novel was in turn based on a 1952 murder case in which Voelker was the defense attorney.

Paul Biegler ([[JimmyStewart James Stewart]]) is a lawyer who can't be bothered with doing legal work, and spends most of his time fishing and playing jazz piano. He's called in to defend loutish, wife-beating US Army Lieutenant Frederick "Manny" Manion (Ben Gazzara), who has been arrested for killing innkeeper Barney Quill. Manion does not deny the murder, and smugly insists he was perfectly justified because Quill raped his wife, Laura (Lee Remick). Biegler knows better, however, and the story follows Biegler's attempts to get Manion acquitted, opposed by a prosecution team headed by assistant Attorney General Claude Dancer (GeorgeCScott, in only his second film role.)

The soundtrack was composed and performed by Music/DukeEllington, who also makes a [[TheCameo cameo appearance]].

''Anatomy of a Murder'' was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to address sex and rape in graphic terms and use taboo words such as "sperm", "rape", "bitch", "slut", "penetration" and [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking "panties"]].
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!!Tropes associated with this work:
* TheAce: Claude Dancer, the Assistant Attorney-General from Lansing, is sent in by the state to help the local DA with the case.
-->'''Judge Weaver: '''Your reputation precedes you, Mr. Dancer. It's a privilege to have you in my court.
* ActuallyPrettyFunny: As Judge Weaver reminds the courtroom, a murder trial is SeriousBusiness. But even then...
--> ''(Biegler has yet again objected to Dancer's cross-examination)''
--> '''Dancer: '''Anything else, Mr. Biegler?
--> '''Biegler: '''You do it again, I'll punt you all the way out into the middle of Lake Superior.
--> ''(Dancer loses his poise and starts laughing)''
* TheAlcoholic: Parnell [=McCarthy=], Biegler's old buddy. {{Defied}} eventually, as he manages to quit drinking while helping Biegler with the case. [[spoiler: In the end, he resolves to stay sober and go into partnership with Biegler]].
* AmoralAttorney: Neither counsel is above resorting to dirty tricks to win the case. The worst offender is probably Biegler, who helps his client cook up a legal excuse for the murder and repeatedly brings in inadmissible evidence on the basis that the jury can't un-hear something once it has heard it.
* AnimatedCreditsOpening: Designed by Saul Bass, one of Otto Preminger and Creator/AlfredHitchcock's frequent collaborators.
* AsYouKnow: Biegler explains to [=McCarthy=] that it isn't enough for them to have discovered that the defence of temporary insanity exists in law; they must also convince the jury that Manion was temporarily insane. Any veteran lawyer would know that.
* BatmanGambit: Dancer decides to call Manion's cellmate to the stand to give evidence on Manion's history of manic rage, despite the cellmate's embarrassingly poor credibility. [[spoiler: Dancer does this knowing that Biegler will call Manion to the stand a second time to refute the cellmate's evidence, which would give Dancer a second opportunity to cross-examine Manion. Biegler falls for the trap, and Dancer shreds Manion this time.]]
* BeneathTheMask: Paul is secretly hurt that the public voted him out of the office of prosecuting attorney, a post that he has held for years, and elected in his place the younger but shallower Mitch Ludovic.
--> '''Biegler''': ''[half-humorously]'' None but the lonely heart shall know my anguish.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Mr. Biegler is called that by Laura.
* TheCameo: Music/DukeEllington is a piano player at a club.
* CrazyJealousGuy: Manion.
* CourtroomAntic: {{Invoked}} so many times that we don't know where to begin.
** {{Lampshaded}} in the following exchange, which takes place after Dancer has been "inadvertently" blocking Biegler's view of his witness during cross-examination and then responds to Biegler's objection by implying that Biegler has been signaling the witness:
-->'''Dancer: '''I'm sorry, Mr. Biegler. I wouldn't want to interfere with your signals to the witness.
-->'''Biegler: '''''[angrily]'' I object to the implication that I'm signaling the witness. This is the shabbiest courtroom trick I've ever seen.
-->'''Dancer: '''You haven't lived, Mr. Biegler.
* DeadpanSnarker: Judge Weaver, Biegler's secretary, and Biegler himself from time to time.
* DramaticIrony: Dancer going for the kill in the cross-examination of [[spoiler: Mary Pilant]].
* DrowningMySorrows: [=McCarthy=] complains that Biegler has turned to drink since he lost the office of prosecuting attorney a year ago.
* EmotionsVsStoicism: {{Inverted}}. Biegler deliberately [[{{Invoked}} invokes]] this trope to turn the small-town jury against the highly self-possessed Dancer.
* EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench: Discussed in the scene where Judge Weaver and the lawyers are trying to come up with something to say in the courtroom besides [[InherentlyFunnyWords panties]]:
-->'''Dancer: '''When I was overseas during the war, Your Honor, I learned a French word. I'm afraid that might be slightly suggestive.
-->'''Judge Weaver: '''Most French words are.
* GreyAndGrayMorality: Neither counsel is beyond criticism. Also, the victim and the defendant both compete for the title of "villain". Biegler, in one of his most sympathetic moments, explains his view of the world to a witness whose testimony he desperately needs:
--> "As a lawyer, I've had to learn that people aren't just good or just bad. People are many things."
* HaveAGayOldTime
** The Judge remarks, "I've always heard that the upper peninsula of our fair state was a queer place."
** When discussing the possible connotations of the word "high", Biegler says, "If they're high they're gay and enjoying themselves."
* HelloNurse: Laura's sexiness is a popular topic of conversation.
* HeroesGoneFishing: Biegler's secretary remarks that if the fridge gets any more fish in it, "it'll swim upriver and spawn."
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Biegler and [=McCarthy=].
--> '''Biegler''': Me, I love fishing and an old guy named Parnell.
* IdiotBall: Dancer, the ace lawyer, completely botches the cross-examination of [[spoiler: Mary Pilant]]. First he violates the rule to never ask a question you don't know the answer to, thus blundering into the ambush where [[spoiler: Pilant says she was Quill's daughter, not his lover]]. Then he fails to make the obvious point that even if [[spoiler: Quill did bring Laura's underwear home, that doesn't prove that he raped her]].
* InherentlyFunnyWords: "There's a certain light connotation attached to the word 'panties.'"
* InsanityDefense: Temporary insanity or irresistible impulse.
* IronicEcho: Paul's own words come back to bite him.
--> '''Dancer: '''The shoe is squeezing Mr Biegler's foot. In his own words, this is not a high school debate. This is a cross-examination in a murder trial.
* TheJudge: Played by Joseph N. Welch, a real-life lawyer most famous for his TakeThat against Senator Joseph [=McCarthy=] ("Have you no sense of decency, sir?") during the 1954 Senate subcommittee hearings investigating [=McCarthy=]'s accusations of [[RedScare Communists in the U.S. Army]]. Welch joked that he took the movie role because it was the closest he'd ever come to being a judge.
* KarmaHoudini: [[spoiler: Manion. The temporary insanity defense as cooked up by Biegler is clearly BS. Manion recalls the murder quite well when first questioned by Biegler but, after Biegler not-so-subtly encourages him, later comes up with the "dissociative state" story that is Biegler's defense at trial.]]
* KickTheDog[=/=]KickThemWhileTheyAreDown: A blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment during Dancer's cross-examination of Laura Manion. When the Judge is distracted by one of Biegler's objections, Dancer mockingly gestures to Laura to offer her a sip from his glass of water. Laura is visibly unnerved.
* LickedByTheDog: Biegler wins Laura's approval when Muff takes a liking to him.
** {{Invoked}} by Biegler when Muff also appears to take a liking to Dancer, who clearly does not reciprocate:
--> '''Biegler: '''It's easy to see that Muff doesn't know who his enemies are.
* TheMasochismTango: Laura and Frederick Manion's married life. At one point, she even wishes that Manion is convicted, because that would be one way of ending it. But she immediately regrets what she said. On another occasion:
--> '''Laura''': ''[speaking about her marriage]'' I should've known how it would be. But it's funny - he likes to show me off, likes me to dress the way I dress, but then he's furious if a man pays attention to me. I've tried to leave him, but I can't - he begs and I give in.
* MsFanservice: Laura Manion.
* NeverTrustATrailer: Besides being one of the most uninteresting trailers ever, the trailer implies that James Stewart will be a witness as opposed to a lawyer: he is shown taking an oath on the Bible just as witnesses do.
* NoSenseOfPersonalSpace: Subtly [[{{Invoked}} invoked]] by Dancer during his cross-examination of Laura Manion, calculated to make her even more uncomfortable.
* OffScreenMomentOfAwesome: Dancer's closing address, according to Biegler.
* OhCrap: The expression on Dancer's face when he [[DidntSeeThatComing gets an answer he wasn't expecting]] during his cross-examination of [[spoiler: Mary Pilant]] (which is why trial lawyers are careful not to ask questions they don't know the answers to).
* OvershadowedByAwesome: Mitch Ludovic, once Dancer is in action.
* ReallyGetsAround: Paul's secretary says this about Laura after first meeting her, and it's true. Laura is back to hitting the bars while her husband is in prison, and she invites Biegler into her trailer.
* {{Sexophone}}: It's fairly subtle, but this is used when Paul first meets Laura.
* SharpDressedMan: Dancer.
* SimpleCountryLawyer: Paul Biegler describes himself as a ''humble'' country lawyer.
* SlutShaming: The prosecution does this in order to cast doubt on Laura's rape story.
* SurpriseWitness: [[spoiler: Mary Pilant, who brings in the panties]].
** A jailhouse stoolie, who says that Manion concocted the insanity defense.
* TakeThat: Judge Weaver's speech introducing the word "panties" in the courtroom is arguably a TakeThat against both UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode and the audience:
-->'''Judge Weaver:''' For the benefit of the jury - but more especially for the spectators - the undergarment referred to in the testimony was, to be exact, [the victim's] panties. (''courtroom spectators laugh for several seconds; the judge then restores order'') I wanted you to get your snickering over and done with. This pair of panties will be mentioned again in the course of this trial, and when it happens, there will not be one laugh, one snicker, one giggle, or even one smirk in my courtroom. There isn't anything comic about a pair of panties which figure in the violent death of one man and the possible incarceration of another.
* ThatWasObjectionable: At times, Biegler objects just to give his witness some time to think of an appropriate answer.
* TheUnreveal: [[spoiler: Did Quill rape Laura at all, and who really hit her? The film seems to be setting up TheKillerWasLeftHanded--Laura's black eye was her right eye, Quill is shown in a picture with a gun in his right hand, and Manion smokes a cigarette with his left hand--but this is not followed up on in the movie.]]
* WhatYouAreInTheDark: When Laura invites Biegler inside her trailer, he refuses out of a sense of duty to his client, her husband, despite the fact that no one would have known.
* WhyIsntItAttacking: Biegler becomes uneasy when Dancer lets Manion off far too easily during cross-examination, and rightly so. Dancer goes on to pulverize Laura Manion.
* WorthyOpponent: Biegler, to Dancer.
* YouJustToldMe: Biegler uses this to get the DA to admit that Laura passed a lie-detector test.