The scene of the crime
The scene of the crime? Lumber Jack Tavern.
Where the story unfolds? Lake Superior Theatre. Directed by Northern Michigan favorite Shelly Russell, Anatomy Of A Murder is a classic courtroom drama. Does temporary insanity justify murder? And what really did occur in the darkness of the great north woods.
In the U.P of Michigan , small-town lawyer Paul Biegler , a prosecuting attorney who lost his re-election bid, takes the case of loutish Army Lieutenant Frederic Manion charged with first degree murder for shooting a barkeeper who allegedly raped Manion's flirtatious wife, Laura . Matched against a high-powered big city prosecutor (George C. Scott) sent by the Governor to help out the local D.A. (Brooks West), Biegler and his alcoholic colleague Parnell
Paul Biegler, a bright bachelor lawyer in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, would rather be fishing4 than practicing law, but he will take the occasional client in order to pay his faithful secretary and other creditors. His best friend is an older alcoholic lawyer who has long ago given up trying to maintain a practice.
Biegler receives a call from a Laura Manion (Lee Remick), wife of Army Lieutenant Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), who has been arrested for killing bar-owner Barney Quill with a Luger pistol. There is no question about the fact that Manion has killed Quill. Quill is shot in his bar in the presence of a host of witnesses, and in a manner suggesting that Manion knew exactly what he was doing and that he did it in a deliberate way. The killing takes place some time after Laura tells her husband that Quill has raped her–enough time to suggest that the killing was not done in the heat of passion but with some deliberation. Manion proves to be a problematic client. He is cool, aloof, cerebral, and close to uncooperative with his lawyer.Manion and his wife seem less than wholly devoted to one another. She is a voluptuous flirt and he has tired of her company. Only once do we see any sign of physical affection between the husband and wife, and that is in the courtroom and appears staged. More significantly, Manion poses a major problem of professional responsibility for Biegler because of his reluctance to tell his side of the story unless Biegler first tells him the law.McCarthy and sardonic secretary Maida Rutledge try to win Manion's freedom with a defense of irresistible impulse -- a claimed part of an insanity defense. Biegler's folksy speech and laid-back demeanor hide a sharp legal mind and a propensity for courtroom theatrics that have the visiting judge (real life lawyer Joseph N. Welch, of Army-McCarthy hearings fame, in his only film role -- he took it only after Preminger agreed to let Welch's wife be on the jury)At times