The release feels surprisingly light considering that this is a fairly big title for Criterion to release, one Iím surprised they were able to get away from Sony. But, even if it feels a little lighter than I may have expected Criterion has still put some great material together.
First is an interview with Foster Hirsch, author of Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King and for approximately 30-minutes he talks about Premingerís early life, his move to the States and his work at Fox, his early independent work and his stand against the Production Code (which built up controversy and free press for his films) until finally coming to Anatomy of a Murder. Once he reaches this point he talks about Premingerís insistence on location shooting, how he worked with the actors and the actual casting process (surprisingly, for me, George C. Scott was originally considered for the role of the bartender, which just seems to bizarre now in retrospect.) He talks about the casting of Welch and the eventual issues the film faced with the Production Code. Iím still a little stunned we didnít get a commentary with this edition but this feature offers a decent alternative.
Criterion next includes 10-minutes worth of material from a 1967 episode of Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. interviewing Otto Preminger. The clips shown focus mostly on Premingerís thoughts on censorship and the two get into a bit of a fight as they seem to have differing opinions on what censorship is, with Preminger not willing to wiggle from a pretty set legal definition, and itís probably the lawyer/law student in him that makes him hard to budge from his definition. Even if Iím not entirely sure where Preminger stood on the subject (he doesnít like the idea of someone telling him to trim certain things before a filmís release but doesnít seem to mind the idea of the government basically banning a film) itís a fascinating interview, especially the last few minutes where we see a somewhat hot-headed Preminger go off on his host while still keeping it fairly civil.
Critic Gary Giddens next talks about Duke Ellington, the Jazz musician recruited by Preminger to compose a score for the film. Giddens talks about Ellingtonís early days, and then how he went about creating the score for the film. He gives some historical context explaining how unorthodox a Jazz score was for a feature film when Jazz was looked down upon in Hollywood (usually the scores were used for seedy B-pictures.) He then breaks down some of his cues and how they fit into the film and then talks a little about Ellingtonís quick appearance in the film. Itís a nice little tribute to the artist and also offers an insightful look into how the filmís score came about.
Author Pat Kirkham next talks about Saul Bass and his work, primarily what he did for Preminger, and talks about his style and impact on marketing and title design. She covers the various designs he did for Premingerís films, with plenty of examples, and talks about his desire to ultimately get the studios away from the boring advertising they typically did, usually involving slapping the starsí faces on a one-sheet. A decent look at the manís work, though I wish we actually got a gallery to accompany it.
5-minutes of newsreel footage is also included, which covers the arrival of the cast and crew by train to Marquette county and then offers footage of Preminger directing a scene within the county courthouse, focusing primarily on the non-professionals. Thereís also footage of Welch delivering his lines in one scene.
We next get a gallery ofphotos by Gjon Mili, totaling a little over 50, featuring a number of production stills, costume tests, and general photos of the cast and crew off the set, including a couple of nice colour ones of Lee Remick. Like most galleries you navigate through the photos using the arrows on your remote.
Criterion then includes segments from a documentary (still in process of being made) by David C. Jones, Claire Wiley, and John OíGrady called Anatomy of ďAnatomyĒ, which is based on a first-hand account by Joan C. Hansen, an extra in the film. With narration that I would guess comes from Hansenís account we meet some of the various townspeople who participated in some way in the making of the film or were around during the filming (or simply passing on stories theyíve heard.) They talk about the other performers, with most men seeming to be a little gaga over Lee Remick, and some women acting the same way about Ben Gazzara, described as a ďflirt.Ē Thereís a little bit of information about attorney John Voelker, the author of the book and whom the character played by James Stewart is based on, and a little about the actual case on which the book and film are based. There are also some interesting anecdotes including one about the actors hired to be the jury within the film. Iím not sure how much more material there would have been but the sample we get here is strong enough on its own.
The disc then closes with a 5-minute theatrical trailer for the film, which features Preminger ďswearing inĒ his cast.
The booklet includes an essay by Nick Pinkerton about the film and Premingerís work in general, and then includes a great article about Joseph N. Welchís participation in the film that first appeared in an issue of Life magazine in 1959. Itís an excellent article about Welchís uneasiness about the film and also includes some great correspondence letters between him and John Voelker.
Iím surprised by the lack of a commentary and also a bit surprised Criterion didnít include anything about the book or actual crime, or even more about Voelker. Iím also stunned they didnít take the opportunity to offer some material about James Stewart since this is the first release featuring the popular actor (not counting their LaserDisc days of course.) But despite these little shortcomings the supplements add some definite value to the release. 7/10