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Kenneth Turan's DVD Pick of the Week

'Anatomy of a Murder,' 'A Man Escaped': crime and punishment

April 04, 2013|By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

Rather than concentrate on the execution of the crime, this week’s DVDs focus on what comes afterward: first the trial, then, for the unlucky, time behind bars.

Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including best picture, 1959’s “Anatomy of a Murder” is one of the great American courtroom dramas. Directed by Otto Preminger, it features Jimmy Stewart as a small-town lawyer defending Ben Gazzara against a murder charge brought by George C. Scott’s hard-driving prosecutor.

Archetypes don’t get more archetypal than this, with a great Duke Ellington score thrown in for good measure. It is newly on DVD courtesy of the Sony Pictures Choice Collection.

Very different in setting is Robert Bresson’s brilliant 1956 “A Man Escaped.” An elegant, minimalist, transcendent director often concerned with affairs of the spirit, Bresson here turns here to revealing in gripping detail the plans for escape hatched by an imprisoned French Resistance leader.

It’s filmmaking at its most involving, presented with lots of extras by the thorough folks at the Criterion Collection.

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