Two hour and forty minute movie about a murder trial where a man pleads temporary insanity on a charge of killing the rapist of his wife. Jimmy Stewart is his lawyer. The victim is played by Lee Remick and her husband is played by Ben Gazzara. George C. Scott is the slick lawyer from the big city. The soundtrack is by Duke Ellington who appears for less than a minute as Pie Eye. Hands down this is one of the best courtroom dramas ever. Do not miss it.
Paul Biegler (James Stewart) returns to the small town of Thunder Bay, Michigan. For ten years he was the D.A. He’s been fishing and hasn’t made any money as a defense attorney. His secretary is Maida Rutledge (Eve Arden) who despite never being paid sticks by him. His best friend is lawyer Parnell Emmett McCarthy (Arthur O’Connell). He’s an alcoholic.
Parnell encourages Paul to take the case of Lt.Fredrick Manton (Ben Gazzara). He killed Inn owner Barney Quill. Manton’s wife Laura (Lee Remick) says Barney raped and beat her up. Manton goes to the bar at the Inn and puts five bullets into Barney.
Laura is flirtatious and Manton is a jealous man. Paul sends Manton to Detroit to see an army psychiatrist. He interviews bartender Alphonse Paquette (Murray Hamilton) who isn’t cooperative. He also talks with Inn manager Mary Pilant (Kathryn Grant).
Time for the trial. The proceedings is presided over by out of towner Judge Weaver (Joseph N.Welch). The D.A.Mitch Lodwick is joined by slick prosecutor Claude Dancer (George C.Scott).
The trial sequence is one of the best. Look for character actors Orson Bean as Dr.Matthew Smith from Detroit. He concludes that Manton was temporarily insane. Ken Lynch is police Sgt.Draco who interviewed Laura about the rape and assault. Howard McNear is Dr.Dompierre. The battle between James Stewart and George C. Scott is some of the best acting you’ll see anywhere.
The movie was nominated for seven Oscars but unfortunately came up empty. James Stewart was nominated for Best Actor. The winner was Charleton Heston for “Ben-Hur.” Arthur O’Connell and George C. Scott were both nominated as Best Supporting Actor. The winner was was Hugh Griffith for “Ben-Hur.”
Joseph N.Welch represented the army in the McCarthy hearings in 1954 which ended the career of Senator Joseph McCarthy.