Archive for Anatomy of a Murder

Bass relief

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2008 by dcairns


The start of the Bass-Preminger collaboration…


Title sequences by Saul Bass. It’s interesting that Otto Preminger, something of a control freak one might think, was happy to basically hand over the openings of his movies to somebody else to direct. I mean, no doubt Bass and Preminger discussed these sequences intensively. But they still smack of untrammelled creativity, so it would be astonishing to me if Otto interfered much after the concept was agreed.

But then, Otto was also able to collaborate effectively with some great composers, and of course there again the filmmaker must entrust a large part of the movie to somebody else, somebody who cannot be directed in quite the same way as an actor or cinematographer…

SAINT JOAN. Impressive how Bass’s hip work merges so well with the period flavour.



EXODUS. “Otto, let my people go!”


“When the Saul Bass credits conclude with the dome of the Capitol lifting to reveal Preminger’s name, the limitations of the whole enterprise are already apparent.” ~ Jonathan Rosenbaum.

THE CARDINAL. Again, simple but stunning due to the careful design of action and lettering together.

IN HARM’S WAY. Just the placement of the words over the image is beautiful, it makes it inexplicable why so many title sequences don’t seem to bother with composition at all.

BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING. Probably my favourite late Preminger, of those I’ve been able to see in decent form. The best ever Olivier film performance, and a superb turn from Noel Coward.


Preminger, a useful combination of artist and huckster, undoubtably borrowed from Hitchcock’s zesty promotional gimmickry, pushing himself forward as a personality, as a bigger star than those in his films, and even narrating his own movie trailers in a lugubrious fashion (Hitch was way better at that though). But Preminger was the first to use the iconic Saul Bass as titles designer (unity was achieved by having Bass design ALL the publicity material as well).


Great Scott!

Posted in FILM, literature, Television with tags , , , on March 20, 2008 by dcairns

George, centre 

When we watched ANATOMY OF A MURDER for the first time years and years ago, Fiona was startled at George C Scott’s entrance. Scott, in his first major role, plays Louis Dancer, big city lawyer and antagonist to Jimmy Stewart (but he’s just a good lawyer, not really a bad guy in any moral sense).

George strides across the courtroom with incredible pantherlike grace.

“My God — George is…almost SEXY…even though he’s… practically DEFORMED!”

Must re-watch this now I have the DVD. Our TV screening was probably 16:9, or even 4:3, and while ANATOMY is so damn entertaining it can be enjoyed even in such a mutilated form (Preminger once took the networks to court to stop them stuffing his movies with commercials. He lost.) it’s be great to appreciate Otto’s mise-en-scene properly at last. And he has a particular passion for courtroom scenes, as I’ve noticed this past week. It’s too easy to argue that this is Preminger’s legal background showing, but… it probably is.