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The Film List Project #4: Anatomy of a Murder

in this day and age, with so many books, magazines, blogs and other media covering film, it's easy to read about a film before seeing it. This is especially true of classic films like the ones I've been writing about, many of which I have read so much about over the years that I feel like I have already seen them.

There are other films, however, that people recognize by an iconic image. With  Anatomy of a Murder, the poster immediately popped into my head. I knew nothing of the plot, the actors, or the filmmakers, but the black crude paper cutout of a body that was #1 in Premiere's 25 Best Movie Posters came to mind.

To say this film was influential is an understatement. I didn't realize that, though, until I did some research.

Anatomy of a Murder, about the trial of a man who fatally shot his wife's alleged rapist, plays out to the modern audience like a well-acted, black and white, long episode of Law and Order: SVU. But to an audience 55 years ago, the film's use of words like "rape" is incredibly shocking. James Stewart, the star of the film, offended his father so much with this film that his father took out an ad in the local newspaper telling people not to see the film.

Today, words like "rape" and "panties" are heard every day on the news, and no one worries about it. I felt nothing when I heard the words.

This just goes to show how important it is to know why a film is influential before watching it. Knowing what was going on in the world and in the film industry is essential to understanding influence.

If I hadn't looked at the IMDb page for this film, I wouldn't have known the facts I've been able to use in this post, and I wouldn't have been able to appreciate how this film shaped crime in the media today.

On a lighter note, the music in this film is fantastic. Duke Ellington composed the score and makes a cameo appearence as Pie-Eye. Here's the piece that opens the film:


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