Saturday, April 14, 2018

TCM's Film Noir of the Week at Midnight ET Saturday Night/Sunday Morning is Mystery Street (1950), but Check Out the Courtroom Masterpiece, Anatomy of a Murder (1959), on Saturday at 12 Noon



By David in TN
Friday, April 13, 2018 at 4:16:00 P.M. EDT


TCM's Film Noir of the Week at Midnight ET Saturday Night/Sunday Morning is Mystery Street (1950). Ricardo Montalban stars as a Boston police detective investigating the murder of a bar girl (Jan Sterling). Marshall Thompson plays the innocent man charged with her murder. Sally Forrest is his loyal wife who suspects her husband was cheating on her with the dead girl.


Bruce Bennett plays a Harvard forensics specialist who helps Montalban solve the crime. The film has circa 1950 forensic science. A sidelight is Montalban's Mexican-American cop going after an upper-class, old family Bostonian.


Sally Forrest and Ricardo Montalban

Mystery Street repeats at 10 a.m. ET Sunday morning, April 15.


Anatomy of a Murder (1959) was a courtroom masterpiece with an undercurrent of viciousness that had nothing to do with the story. Director Otto Preminger loved to to cheat on the Hays Code, which censored moral indecency, and cast Joseph Welch as the presiding judge, as a reward to the Communist-sympathizer lawyer, for bushwhacking Senator Joseph McCarthy during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings. Preminger also hired Duke Ellington to compose a jazz score, and appear in the picture, playing himself, albeit under a different name. Ellington's score is lovely, but completely inappropriate to a picture set in the boondocks of 1950s Wisconsin. That choice, too, expressed some sort of cockamamie political statement by Preminger.

Earlier at 12 p.m. ET Saturday, TCM shows Anatomy of a Murder (1959).

Left to right: Jimmy Stewart, Ben Gazzara, and Arthur O'Connell. Stewart would be nominated for Best Actor for the fifth and last time; O'Connell would be nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the second and last time.

This is the Otto Preminger-directed classic starring James Stewart as a lawyer defending a man who killed his wife's alleged rapist.

Lee Remick and George C. Scott

The story (based on an actual case) is ambiguous as to the guilt of Stewart's client.

Kathryn Grant (later Crosby) and Stewart in court

One of the best scenes is when James Stewart's character tells his client "the four ways I can defend murder."

Ben Gazzara, Otto Preminger, and Jimmy Stewart


David In TN said...

TCM's Film Noir of the Week at Midnight ET Saturday Night/Sunday Morning is Cry Danger (1951) starring Dick Powell and Rhonda Fleming. Powell plays a prototype Noir protagonist, a tough guy just out of prison for a "crime he didn't commit." He had been released when an alcoholic ex-Marine provided him with a false alibi in the hope of being cut in for a share of the loot. Powell tells him he's really innocent.

Meanwhile Powell's best friend is still in prison so Powell goes after the real culprit played by William Conrad. Fleming is Powell's ex-girl, now married to his imprisoned friend.

It all shakes out in typical Noir fashion. Cry Danger repeats at 10 am ET Sunday morning, April 22.

Earlier on Saturday, April 21, at 1:30 pm, TCM shows The Young Philadelphians (1959). Paul Newman plays a young lawyer trying to make it in both the legal profession and Philadelphia high society. It's one of the better "lawyer" stories despite the soap opera elements.

At 8 pm ET, Saturday night, TCM features The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). Steve McQueen plays the title character, a rich Boston blueblood who masterminds a bank heist just to prove he could do it.

McQueen saw the part of a Brahmin as stretching his acting range.

Anonymous said...

Mystery Street was a good movie.Thanks for posting.

Nicholas said...


Glad you liked it. I did, too. It just has a dumb, forgettable name that has nothing to do with the story.

David In TN said...

From Anatomy of a Murder, The Four Ways I can Defend Murder are:

1. It wasn't murder. It was suicide or accidental.
2. You didn't do it.
3. You were legally justified, like the protection of your home or self defense.
4. The killing was excusable.

Jimmy Stewart's character tells Ben Gazarra's character "You don't fit in any of the first three." When Gazarra exclaims "He raped my wife!," Stewart replies "The time element. You had time to bring in the police but you didn't."

A point lawyers have made about the film is the defense lawyer coaches his client into the defense.

My brother defended a woman in a Knoxville courtroom for vehicular assault and won an acquittal. He said he imitated Jimmy Stewart from Anatomy of a Murder. After that my brother stayed in civil law.

By the way, the judge my brother tried this case before was Randy Nichols, then a judge, later the Knox County District Attorney General for Knox County.

Of the four ways, they can be elastic. The fourth category is sometimes combined with one of the first three. For example, dirtying the victim.