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YMMV / Anatomy of a Murder

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The film's Gray and Gray Morality invites a whole lot of speculation about each character's true nature.
    • Is Paul an Amoral Attorney or simply a cynical veteran with a nuanced view of the ethics of his profession?
    • Was Laura actually raped or just trying to cover her infidelity? Is she just flirty or genuinely unfaithful? Did her injuries come from Quill or a jealous Manny? Does she love Manny or is she just trapped in a vicious cycle?
    • Did Manny kill Barney Quill in indignation at the rape of his wife or in a jealous rage? Is he physically abusive towards Laura or just a jealous hothead? Is he just paranoid or is his jealousy actually justified? Is his jealousy motivated by actual love for Laura or just a controlling nature?
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    • Was Barney Quill actually the good, honest man the people of town believed him to be, or the predatory misogynist he is in Laura's side of the story? The film itself takes a position on this, suggesting that it was possible for him to be both.
    • Dancer's apparent lapse in knowledge of the Durfee case has a more sinister interpretation: he knew that the insanity defense in Michigan only required an irresistible impulse, but was hoping Paul didn't know and he could pressure him into a guilty plea.
  • Award Snub: Although the film scored nominations for Best Picture and some acting bids, Otto Preminger was notably omitted from the Best Director line-up. Lee Remick also missed out on a nomination, notably losing out to a second nomination from Imitation of Life.
  • Awesome Music: Duke Ellington's jazz score, which was the first significant (non-diegetic) Hollywood film score composed by an African American.
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  • Designated Villain: Mitch Lodwick is a villain by default since he's the prosecuting attorney and beat Paul for the position. But from what we see, he's far more honest and fair-dealing than Paul, even if he does lack Paul's legal acumen.
  • Fair for Its Day: The film's treatment of rape and justifiable homicide is bound to come off as almost callous to a modern viewer, particularly with Laura's casual attitude the night after the encounter and Dancer's vigorous cross-examination of her.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • It may be unclear to modern viewers the importance of Laura's wearing a girdle and the fact that her outfits are considered risqué in the 1950's, despite looking pretty conservative by today's standards. The sight of seeing 4 grown men trying to avoid using the word "panties" is bound to seem strange as well.
    • In a book of interviews with Peter Bogdanovich, Preminger explained that the film's depiction of American justice was this in other countries. He noted that during a screening at the Soviet Union, he explained that the ethos of American justice is "Better to let a guilty man go free than to put an innocent man in jail" but the Russians didn't understand it, noting that Laura was obviously a slut and the couple were clearly lying.
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  • Values Resonance: The film's firm stance against Victim Blaming is still painfully relevant. No matter how flirty, loose and manipulative Laura is, she doesn't deserve to be raped, she didn't ask for it and it is still a major crime.


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