August 2005 Views
Club Indigo to feature Anatomy of a Murder at Calumet Theatre Aug. 19
By Joe Kirkish
HOUGHTON -- On Friday, August 19, the Calumet Theatre presents the last of the Club Indigo summer classic movies -- the 1959 award-winning
Anatomy of a Murder. Filmed in Marquette, Michigan, and its environs, the film is based on a story by Marquette judge Robert
Traver. In addition, the Lode Theatre in Houghton has held over the excellent
documentary, March of the Penguins -- a "must see" on big screen.
Anatomy of a Murder (1959). Considered the best courtroom drama ever made,
this film reveals a small town lawyer (James Stewart) who faces an explosive case as he
defends an army officer who has killed a man he suspects was his philandering wife's rapist. This realistic, cynical portrayal of
the court system isn't especially concerned with guilt or innocence; it focuses instead on the interplay between the various courtroom
characters. George C. Scott, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara and Eve Arden are among the stars in this Otto Preminger movie which caused a
controversial stir in the censor bureau for its frank discussion of sensitive material.
Featured also is a performance by Duke Ellington and his orchestra.
Familiar local places will be easily identified in this film. Results were ecstatic; it was given a four-star rating and has been raised to cult status since then. Just last year it was shown in the very
courthouse where it had been made.
The movie will be shown at 7:15 p.m., preceded at 6 p.m. by an Upper Peninsula buffet from chef Erik Karvonen of the Eagle River Fitzgerald Restaurant.
Cost for the movie and buffet is $15; movie alone, $5 (half price for children for food and film). For the buffet, reservations
should be made by calling the Calumet Theatre at 337-2610.
The movie is sponsored by the Gas Lite General Store in Copper Harbor.
The fall season for Club Indigo begins Sept. 23 with a Kurosawa classic, Yojimbo.
|Editor's Notes: Joe Kirkish recently spoke about Anatomy of a Murder with Stan Wright of WNMU, Public Radio 90, Marquette. Here are some highlights from the interview:
"It's a wonderful story," Kirkish said. "People comment on it in superlatives everywhere."
Kirkish noted the film won many awards, including James Stewart's best actor award at the Venice Film Festival and the New York Film Critics Circle award for 1959. It is also considered very accurate by law school teachers, he added.
"Of course it's accurate because it was written by a judge, John D. Voelker of the Michigan Supreme Court (who wrote under the pseudonym Robert Traver)," Kirkish said.*
Wright told a story of how Judge Voelker was on a first name basis with everyone during the making of the film.
Kirkish and Wright also discussed the controversy surrounding the film's mention of sensitive subjects.
"It was a scandalous event that the story was based upon," Wright said.
Wright, who announces many musical programs for WNMU, said the film is also known for the Duke Ellington jazz score, which won a Grammy award in 1959.
"Just for the music alone I'd want to watch the film over and over again," Wright added.**
March of the Penguins a "must see" on big screenBy Joe Kirkish
March of the Penguins (Rated G): OK, so it is just the right length for a 90-minute National Geographic special on TV, and so many of the nature films on PBS employ the same miraculous photography as here. Save the boob tube for another time; seeing this film on a big screen is a must for the fullest effect.
In no way could I render justly the stunning nature of this film, nor the effect it had on me, on little tots and everyone in between.
Following in the footsteps of a fellow French filmmaker (Jean-Jacques Annaud) who created the delightfully original mix of CGI and real-life photography in
The Bear, Luc Jacquet and his intrepid production crew braved a full year in Antarctica to study, then film, the 12-month ritual among Emperor Penguins as they endure
100-m.p.h. winds and 80-degree-below-zero temps in their atavistic trek to a spot 70 miles from their watery homes in order to mate. Their express purpose is to find a mate, create an egg, return with it (protected by the lower front fur over the scaly claw/foot tops -- no wonder they waddle!). Then as a chick hatches it is carried in similar fashion until it matures and is eventually left to fend for itself.
But any nature film could, with state-of-the-art equipment, do that. Three elements set this documentary head and shoulders over other nature films:
First, dazzling photography of the South Pole area as we've never seen before -- brilliant blue water, shimmering glacial sculptures, breathtaking underwater sequences -- enough to hold interest by themselves, far more impressively on the big screen than the TV set, where
the film will likely wind up.
Second, an eye-opening education delivered in chronological order with fascinating details about these odd aquatic birds, about their habits, signs of emotion, etc.
And, third, an intelligently delivered narrative by Morgan Freeman, made simple enough for even the youngest in the audience to get the message.
But the details! Imagine the contrasts of single-file penguins in their trek who finally crowd into a huge,
amoeba-like blob -- thousands of them in black, grey, white -- to protect from the elements and then to pair off for mating. The mating ceremony itself is a tender series of
close-ups -- heads interlocked in graceful, swan-like movements.
The resulting chicks are something else. Resembling Al Capp's lovable schmoos, they chirp and waddle humorously, take food from their parents' mouths and stare vacantly at us through mask-like features. Close-ups of every sort reveal furry textures, sinewy lines, merging colors. Expressive movement, shapes and sounds say more than facial expressions ever could. The mourning of a mother over her frozen chick is heartrending.
Woven through all this is Alex Warman's most appropriate score, and with the final credits, wonderful shots of the camera team braving the elements while making the film.
OK, I'm waxing eloquently. Can't help it. In a film age when ugliness, crassness, perversion and violence are the norm -- what an oasis! (Grade A)
|Editor's Notes (cont.):
* According to IMDB (Internet Movie Data
Base), "John D. Voelker wrote novels under the pen name of Robert Traver, because he felt it would seem inappropriate for a sitting judge to also be a crime novelist."
** See the IMDB Web site for more information on
Anatomy of a Murder.
Read more about guest columnist Joe
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