Robert Harris

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You know that you're in for something special by only looking at the cover art on Criterion's new Blu-ray of Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder.


They returned to the absolute simplicity of Saul Bass' brilliant original artwork, and made it their own.


Something that I'd never noticed about the billing block before this instant is that, segregated from the professional cast, is the line "and Joseph N. Welch as Judge Weaver."


Mr. Welch was Special Counsel for the Army during the notorious McCarthy hearings in the early 1950s.


The Hearing were the closest thing that the United States saw to the 17th century witch hunts in two centuries.


During the trials, it was Mr. Welch, who among others, took on McCarthy and Roy Cohn, the subcommittees chief counsel.


One line from the transcripts that rings clear as a bell as it did six decades ago, which is Mr. Welch's words "Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last. Have you left no sense of decency?"


And this is the man that Otto Preminger chose to play Judge Weaver in Anatomy of a Murder.


As an aside, you'll be pleased to know that James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Garzzara, George C. Scott, Arthur O'Connell, Eve Arden and Kathryn Grant are also on board.


The score is by one Duke Ellington. He can be researched.


There have been numerous courtroom dramas over the years. The Verdict remains one of my personal favorites. But Mr. Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder is a special film. I put it on screen last evening to get a good sample of quality and had a difficult time pulling myself away.


You will also.


Criterion's new Blu-ray is based upon an image harvest from a 35mm fine grain master. The aspect ratio is correct at 1.85, although 1.78 would have done nicely. The audio was re-mastered from the original 35mm DME, and a 5.1 was created for the disc. The original monaural track, is also included as is proper. Both tracks are uncompressed.


The image quality is superb, rendered in gorgeous black & white. Blacks, shadow details are all dead on, as one would expect from a film coming out of Columbia / Sony.


Anatomy of a Murder is one of the great films of the '50s, and is represented here on a perfect Blu-ray.


We'll pull out those stars again. I don't have any stars to post. Possibly someone on the exec team at HTF will come up with something.


To my eye, Criterion's Anatomy of a Murder properly represents the original film.


Image quality: 5 stars


Audio quality: 5 stars


And a new Blu-ray that comes Highly Recommended.


RAH
 

Charles Smith

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Couple of years ago on a beautiful Saturday morning I drove to the Lafayette, about an hour and a half from my house, to see this for my first time in some years. I noted the running time of 2 hours 40 minutes and made a point of wolfing down a hearty breakfast and paying a proper visit to the restroom so as not to be distracted during the film by biological or physiological yearnings of any kind.


The movie was more satisfying than I could ever have appreciated in earlier years. No question about it. About an hour into the film I settled a little deeper into my seat and took a moment to just look around, be aware, and keep listening ... but savor both the film and the look and feel of a wonderful theater, the attentive audience ...

And a few minutes later the movie was over.


Uh, what the...? Wait a minute. Where did two hours and forty minutes just go?


Sounds like I'm on the verge of being able to experience at least the movie aspect of that over and over again.
 
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mark brown

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Last Fall the Oklahoma Bar Association was asking for ideas for a series of great legal films. The series kicked off in January with "To Kill A Mockingbird." I have proposed this title for the series. The Courtroom reality is incredible but it is Mr. Welch who makes the trial work! ps: the blu-ray black and white picture quality and the remastered 5.1 sound of "Ellington" are wonderful!
 

Peter Apruzzese

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Chas in CT said:
Couple of years ago on a beautiful Saturday morning I drove to the Lafayette, about an hour and a half from my house, to see this for my first time in some years.  I noted the running time of 2 hours 40 minutes and made a point of wolfing down a hearty breakfast and paying a proper visit to the restroom so as not to be distracted during the film by biological or physiological yearnings of any kind. The movie was more satisfying than I could ever have appreciated in earlier years.  No question about it.  About an hour into the film I settled a little deeper into my seat and took a moment to just look around, be aware, and keep listening ... but savor both the film and the look and feel of a wonderful theater, the attentive audience ...  And a few minutes later the movie was over. Uh, what the...?  Wait a minute.  Where did two hours and forty minutes just go? Sounds like I'm on the verge of being able to experience at least the movie aspect of that over and over again.
That show is in my top 10 of the ones I've run at the Lafayette: it was an absolutely flawless vault print from Sony. I very nearly missed the final changeover as the scene is so gripping and I was so transfixed by George C. Scott's performance (his expression change after K. Grant makes a revelation on the stand) that I almost missed seeing the cues. Amazing movie - can't wait to get the Blu-ray.
 

ShellOilJunior

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Is it true Grover Crisp was responsible for delivering a high quality HD master to Criterion? It wouldn't surprise me. That guy is awesome!
 

Robert Harris

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Originally Posted by ShellOilJunior

Is it true Grover Crisp was responsible for delivering a high quality HD master to Criterion?
It wouldn't surprise me. That guy is awesome!


True.


To the best of my knowledge, there are only two studios which allow the asset protection arm involvement in video mastering, as opposed to doing film restoration/preservation and selecting an element.


Columbia, which is Mr. Crisp, and Fox's Schawn Belston.


This is why pre-ordering from those two studios is always a safe bet.


RAH
 
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AdrianTurner

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I've always rated Anatomy of a Murder the greatest courtroom drama of all time. I hope there's a UK Blu-ray as well (Criterion still insists on regionality) because I think this movie (like The Apartment actually) is a symphony in GREY and wonder if it's really an improvement on the DVD. As an aside, the amazing Otto Preminger once appeared on a classic BBC radio programme called Desert Island Discs. This programme has run for 70 years and accords the same sort of reverence as the Royal Family, God bless 'em. The programme asks its subjects to nominate their seven favourite pieces of music, a book and a luxury which they would take if they were marooned on a desert island. Dear Otto incurred the wrath of the programme's originator, Roy Plomley, by not really playing the game. His seven pieces of music were soundtracks from his own movies. His book was his autobiography. His luxury was a mirror. They don't make them like that anymore.
 

Johnny Angell

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Well, I’m going to pull the trigger and buy the Criterion blu. There are two threads on this blu and both are giving it high praise. I’m a bit disappointed there is no commentary. A movie like this is ripe for a film, legal, or political historian commentary. Get ready for an announcement of a 4K. I figure within a month of my purchase. :D
 

Johnny Angell

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It’s a great looking disc - I don’t think you’ll regret it. Fantastic film too.
I have seen the film on TCM I believe, so it’s not a blind buy. This would have been a great movie without Jimmy, but he and O’Connel perform with each other so well, the movie reaches the stratosphere.
 

Johnny Angell

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We just watched this movie...and b&w lives! Glorious black and white. I had also forgot how Stewart is in almost every scene in the movie. Absolutely wonderful acting. I had not realized till watching a little of extras that this was based on novel (I knew that) that was based on a real incident. Wikipedia tells me the army couple separated in less than 1 or 2 years.

This watching of the movie left me feeling quite ambivalent about the verdict. Do we want a guy who can unpredictably kill a man On the streets? I was also more aware of the coaching that Stewart gave Gazarra’s character. Not exactly by Hoyle.

There was an odd thing, about 3/4 into the movie, some the white shirts, especially, collars turned yellow where there was no problem before. In the very last scene with Stewart and O’Connel reading the note, on the left O’Connel’s collar is yellow and Stewarts is white.
 
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old mole

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I have the 2012 copy of this film. Is this a new transfer, and if so, is it worth the upgrade?
 

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