Some good news that came out a few weeks ago for anyone who loves great movies, was the announcement that Criterion will be releasing director Otto Preminger’s 1960 classic courtroom thriller Anatomy of a Murder with James Stewart, Lee Remick and Ben Gazzara, on blu-ray DVD on Feb. 21.
Not only is the film one of Preminger’s best and one of the best (if not the best) legal thrillers ever, it also features one of the great music scores written by Duke Ellington which was, unless I’m mistaken, the first music score for a major Hollywood studio film written by a black composer. And since the sound quality on blu-ray DVDs is far and away superior than on a regular DVDs, viewers will finally have the chance to hear Ellington’s score in its full glory.
Ironically Ellington was not nominated for an Oscar for his score, which is an unforgivable shame. However, he was nominated the very next year in 1961 for his work on the Sidney Poitier/Paul Newman film Paris Blues (which one assumes was to make up for not getting a nomination for Murder).
The picture above, taken during production of the film, shows the Vienna born director (or dictator according to many nortorious stories about him on the set) with Ellington, who has a cameo in the film. The guy with the glasses in the middle is Billy Strayhorn, Ellington’s master arranger, creative muse and right-hand man – the man who made Elllington Ellington.
Here’s the opening credits sequence for the film: