Anatomy of a Murder

James Stewart defends the innocent again in this oft-overrated 1959 Otto Preminger legal drama, which continues to catch audiences napping with its frank testimony about rape and human sexuality. That boldness of approach--combined with a fresh score by Duke Ellington and electrifying performances by Lee Remick and a young George C. Scott--sticks in the mind more than the film's sluggish midsection. Credit Stewart again for doing the film's dirty work: holding our attention as a sweet-natured defense attorney and then shocking us with how hard-edged and aloof he can become while discussing the condition of a victim's panties. That edginess startles Scott as well, and the war of words between the two attorneys provides some of the greatest courtroom sparks this side of Inherit the Wind. (NR) NOEL MURRAY

Oct. 10-16, 8 p.m., 2008

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