Otto Preminger

Otto Preminger – Whirlpool (1949)

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The luminous Gene Tierney, who starred in director Preminger’s breakout film LAURA, appears here as Ann Sutton, the kleptomaniac wife of a distant but loving psychoanalyst, (Richard Conte). When she is caught shoplifting, suave hypnotist David Korvo (José Ferrer) comes to her aid, but soon Ann finds herself enmeshed in far more dangerous crimes. Implicated in a plot that involves blackmail and murder, Ann is uncertain of her own innocence, but her husband is convinced that the hypnotist is behind the crimes. Loosely adapted from Guy Endore’s novel METHINKS THE LADY…, the script was penned by noted screenwriter Ben Hecht under a pseudonym during the Red Scare. Preminger, who was one of Hollywood’s top directors of the 1950s, combines characteristics of the noir film with the melodrama. He creates an incisive look at the very human flaws of its wealthy characters, as well as the manipulative charlatan who preys upon them; at the center of the story is the trouble afflicting an apparently happy upper-class marriage.
(review in yahoo movies) Read More »

Otto Preminger – Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

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Based on the best-selling novel by Robert Traver (the pseudonym for Michigan Supreme Court justice John D. Voelker), Anatomy of a Murder stars James Stewart as seat-of-the-pants Michigan lawyer Paul Biegler. Through the intervention of his alcoholic mentor Parnell McCarthy (Arthur O’Connell), Biegler accepts the case of one Lt. Manion Ben Gazzara), an unlovable lout who has murdered a local bar owner. Manion admits that he committed the crime, citing as his motive the victim’s rape of the alluring Mrs. Manion (Lee Remick). Faced with the formidable opposition of big-city prosecutor Claude Dancer (George C. Scott), Biegler hopes to win freedom for his client by using as his defense the argument of “irresistible impulse.” Also featured in the cast is Eve Arden as Biegler’s sardonic secretary, Katherine Grant as the woman who inherits the dead man’s business (and provides the key piece of evidence near the end of the trial), and Joseph N. Welch — who in real life was the defense attorney in the Army-McCarthy hearings — as the ever-patient judge. The progressive-jazz musical score is provided by Duke Ellington, who also appears in a brief scene. Producer/director Otto Preminger once more pushed the envelope in Anatomy of a Murder by utilizing technical terminology referring to sexual penetration, which up until 1959 was a cinematic no-no. Contrary to popular belief, Preminger was not merely being faithful to the novel; most of the banter about “panties” and “semen,” not to mention the eleventh-hour courtroom revelation, was invented for the film. Anatomy of a Murder was filmed on location in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. — Hal Erickson Read More »