Anatomy of a Murder (1959) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), a lieutenant in the army, is arrested for the murder of a bartender, Barney Quill. He claims, in his defense, that the victim had raped and beaten up his wife Laura (Lee Remick). Although Laura supports her husband's story, the police surgeon can find no evidence that she has been raped. Manion is defended by Paul Biegler (James Stewart), a rather humble small-town lawyer. During the course of interviews, Biegler discovers that Manion is violently possessive and jealous, and also that his wife has a reputation for giving her favors to other men. Biegler realizes that the prosecution will try to make the court believe that Laura was the lover of the bartender and than Manion killed him and beat her up when he discovered them together. Manion pleads "not guilty" and Biegler, who knows that his case is weak, sets his assistants to try to find a witness who will save Manion. Runtime: 160 mins Release Date: 31 Aug 1959
First of all be patient as the following information is getting to a point that might add to your appreciation of the movie. I became aware of the following information while attending Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI over a few tall drinks with John D. Volker, the author, years ago.This great courtroom drama is set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. To be more specific the cities of Marquette, Negaunee and Ishpeming and the village of Big Bay and is based on a true murder case that took place there. The names of the cities and people are changed in the movie but it is filmed on <more>
the same locations that the murder case took place. The screenplay was written by John D. Volker who wrote his novels under the pen name Robert Travers and was based on his first novel. He was from Ishpeming Iron City in the movie and a Michigan Supreme Court Justice when he reviewed the appeal of this case and turned it into a detailed novel and then screenplay. The movie is given an extra dose of authenticity by using the unique people of the Upper Peninsula as extras and in minor roles. The point of all this historical information is that along with a hard hitting realistic style by director Otto Premenger, great score by Duke Ellington, plus top notch true to life performances by the excellent cast Jimmy Stewart, Ben Gazara, Lee Remick, George C. Scott, et.al this black and white film is more reality than fiction and being aware of this adds to impact of this psychological courtroom drama. This is a true human experience written by an author from the area directly from the original court transcripts, filmed where it happened in a style that fits the subject matter where it actually happened with a cast that really knows what they are doing. If you like ripped from reality courtroom dramas, does it get better?
Absolutely first-rate courtroom drama, fascinating all the way (by Camera-Obscura)
It's hard to think of any film that can surpass Otto Preminger's superb courtroom drama. Having seen this film countless times now, I'm hooked, each time I see it. Usually I find most courtroom dramas not all that fascinating. Most of them work up to the point they enter the courtroom, after which most of the sparkle disappears. That's definitely not the case in this film. The writing is just as riveting I don't think it's dated, and in a way, every film is dated as it was back then and the film is greatly boosted by a fantastic cast led by Stewart in perhaps the <more>
best role of his career and that says something. It's a long film 160 min but I never even notice the lengthy running time. It could go on for two hours more as far as I'm concerned.The film is set in Thunder Bay in Northern Michigan, a town that lives mainly of tourism and the nearby army base. Stewart plays Paul Biegler, an easy-going small town Michigan lawyer at the dawn of his career, who likes to spend his spare time going fishing and play a tune on the piano once in a while to relax himself. One day, he is called by a young woman Lee Remick to defend the case of her husband, an army lieutenant Ben Gazzara , who is accused of murdering the rapist of his beautiful seductive wife. He decides to take the case, but the prosecution calls in reinforcements from Lansing in the person of big-city prosecutor George C. Scott, who claims it's a case of cold blooded murder. The unfolding of the story with captivating new insights after each new witness and several surprising twists and turns will have you glued to your seat. The courtroom theatrics are outrageous and they would probably never be allowed in a real courtroom, as the two lawyers try everything, even the lowest tricks in the book, to make their case. The cross-examinations are riveting and at times very funny. Preminger mainly uses long takes without too much cross-cutting and close-ups and in every take there's something droll, like the courtroom scene where George C. Scott continuously tries to block the view between Stewart and Remick, when he questions her on the stand. Strangely enough, when Stewart bursts out in protest about this behaviour, it becomes even funnier, when the two lawyers start bickering at each other in high fashion.Arthur O'Connell is simply fantastic as Stewart's alcoholic sidekick, and Eve Arden is equally memorable as his cynical lace-tongued secretary hoping to receive her long-due paycheck with this case. Real-life judge Joseph N. Welch is a marvel to watch in his role as Judge Weaver. Welch got most famous in real life, because he stood up against communist witch hunter senator McCarthy during the Army hearings and told him on live television, "Have you no sense of decency, sir?"Duke Ellington provided the score and also makes a brief appearance behind the piano in a nightly bar scene.This is as good as it gets, extremely well written, superbly acted, directed, scored, every minute of it is supremely entertaining. A completely winning combination. Camera Obscura --- 10/10
Preminger's Anatomy of a Rape Murder (by theowinthrop)
ANATOMY OF A MURDER was Otto Preminger's attempt to relate a subject hinted about in motion pictures, but rarely gone into great detail. The subject was rape and it's consequences, and how the rape victim frequently found herself under attack in our law courts when the issues of the case hinged on her moral innocence or guilt.The story takes place in the upper peninsula of Michigan, near a resort town. There is a military base nearby, and Ben Gazzara is a lieutenant there married to Lee Remick. It is the second marriage for both of them. Remick is extraordinary pretty, and her best <more>
features are highlighted by the tight fitting casual clothes she wears. She also is aware of how attractive she is to other men than her husband.One night, while Gazzara is sleeping after dinner, Remick goes to the local bar for some fun austensibly drinking and playing pinball . She is playing it with the bar owner, who subsequently gives her a car ride home. Except for her pet dog, nobody witnesses what happens in the car - her story is that the man raped her twice, and she ran home and told her husband. Gazzara, one hour later, goes to the bar and shoots the owner five times.Was there a rape? The police made a cursory examination, and find that while there are some signs of a struggle, there is no trace of sperm. Remick's panties are missing, but they may just have been hidden by her. She did have some bruises including one of her eye , but they could be due to a beating from anyone else. Gazzara is arrested and charged with the murder. And Remick calls in Jimmy Stewart.He was the former District Attorney for the town, but has been recently defeated after ten years of service. His staff consists of Eve Arden, and when he sober Arthur O'Connor. Stewart has handled prosecutions, and has never handled any criminal defense. He would not only face the current District Attorney Brooks West but an additional big city prosecutor George C. Scott - in his first major movie role . Stewart finds that aside from the ironclad case the prosecution has, the lack of evidence conclusively showing a rape, and the time issue of one hour between said rape and the killing, prevent him putting forward a defense of temporary insanity. He also finds that both Gazzara and Remick are difficult figures to fit into a "respectable" couple image for what he has to do.There had been plenty of first rate courtroom dramas in previous years in the movies, such as THE STORY ON PAGE ONE and WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, but nothing had been so carefully shown as this case was. The tactics of both defense and prosecution are demonstrated, with the careful maneuvering of questions and answers, and the attempt to probe for weaknesses in each other's cases. And Scott's cross-examination of Remick, bringing out her somewhat promiscuous character, reminds us of what usually happened and still does in rape cases. The character of the wise judge in the case was played by Joseph Welch, the Boston legal whiz who smashed Senator Joseph McCarthy to kindling very quietly and with dignity in 1954 at the Army-McCarthy hearings on television. Here, in his only movie role, Judge Welch shows the same courtly calm and dignity that adds to the sense of reality of the film.Well acted and directed this film has to be on anyone's list of top ten court room films.
Anatomy of an excellent movie:Begin with an extremely tight and well written script, from the novel by the same name. While reportedly the story is based on a real-life case it is nevertheless a timeless story, almost biblical, presenting age-old questions of human conflicts and human dilemmas. Add to that a sensational cast, starting of course with the leads, Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott, Lee Remick, and Ben Gazarra, but also the rest of the cast, filled as it is with numerous accomplished and veteran stage actors and radio performers from days of yore. Character parts played by actors <more>
Arthur O'Connell, Eve Arden, Ken Lynch, Joseph Kearns, and Howard McNear. Someone paid careful attention to the casting for this film.Perhaps the most masterful stroke as far as casting goes was the casting Joseph Welch as the judge. Welch was an experienced and renowned lawyer in real life. Welch turns in a very good and a very believable performance.With the collision of those elements, a great script and a great cast, adding Otto Preminger as director, an overseer who knew exactly what to do with it all, you then have a very fine film.More than any other movie or play, including modern day presentations like the television series Law & Order, this 1959 movie, Anatomy of a Murder, even though it is now 46 years old, is by far the most realistic and technically accurate courtroom drama ever produced. The conduct of the trial, the examination of the witnesses, the colloquy and bantering back and forth between the lawyers and between the lawyers and the judge, is spot-on. Every bit of it. Every question from the lawyers, every objection, every ruling by the judge, every admonishment from the judge, and the testimony of the witnesses, every bit of it, is realistic and believable, lines that were accurately written with care, and then flawlessly delivered.Beyond the technical accuracies of the legal proceedings, some other aspects of the overall story were also spot on. The ambiguous ambivalence of lawyers, their motivations, their ethics, their relative honesty. Nothing is all black or all white. Shades of gray abound. Legal cases as sport. Being a "good lawyer" means pushing the envelope too far, bending the rules until you're told to stop. Not for justice. No, not that. To win. That's why. To win. Then sanctimoniously telling themselves that the system really works better this way. The movie accurately captures the fact that real-life legal cases are very often comprised of upside down Alice in Wonderland features. Innocent people are guilty, and guilty people are innocent. Good is bad, and bad is good. Everything is relative. Some call it cynicism. Others, cynically, call it realism. Anatomy of a Murder captures all of these and more.I've read the criticism that Lee Remick was not believable, that as an actress she failed at nailing the portrayal of how a true rape victim would appear and behave, and that her character, Laura Manion, just didn't seem to have the proper affect nor strike the right emotional chord of a woman who had been raped. All I can say is that such criticism misses a humongous part of the point. It is almost mind-boggling that there are viewers out there who, after viewing this film, somehow managed to miss it. Let me clear it up: we the viewers WERE SUPPOSED to have serious doubts about whether Laura Manion had actually been raped. The question of whether she was really raped or not is central to the plot and story line. That's why Lee Remick played the part the way she did. And then, in turn, it was part of the story for the Jimmy Stewart character, Paul Biegler, to recognize this problem, and the problem that it presented to his defense. He worried that the jury would see it and would also doubt that she had been raped, and so that's why he propped her up in court, dressed up all prim and proper, with a hat over her voluptuously cascading hair, and with horned-rim glasses. So, yes, Lee Remick nailed it. Bull's eye.Speaking of Lee Remick, some say that this was the movie that put Lee Remick on the map. She was stunningly beautiful here, at the ripe young age of 24. Even though the film is in black and white, her red hair, blue eyes, and porcelain skin still manage to jump right off the screen and out at you. Has any other actress ever played the role of the beautiful and sexy lady looking to get laid any better than Lee Remick? It was a woman she reprised several times in her career, sometimes with greater subtlety and understatement than others. This was her first rendition of it, and it may have been the best.Anatomy of a Murder is a very complex movie, with multitudes of layers and texturing, where much is deftly explored, but precious little is resolved. It's a movie that leaves you thinking and wondering. I highly recommend it.
Anatomy Of a Murder is probably Otto Preminger's best film. It's certainly my favorite. Adapted from a novel by Robert Traver, it tells the story of a lawyer in northern Michigan and his defense of a particularly surly and violent murderer. As is always the case with Preminger, scenes are filmed mostly with all the characters present in the frame. There is no cross-cutting to speak of, which is to say the drama plays out with the assorted characters confronting one another, or at any rate with one another, and the effect is one of surprising warmth and good feeling in the movie's <more>
cosier scenes, which for once enhance rather than detract from the drama. I would have been quite happy to have spent much more time in lawyer Biegler's house and study, with its books, old furniture and broken typewriter, but alas this is a murder case so one has to get down to businss.The question of whether the defendant, an army officer, was temporarily insane, is in fact insane, or is merely putting on a good show, is never fully resolved. The lawyer is by no means perfect. He's a little lazy, though he gets over it. One senses he's cheap. He enjoys his shabby genteel bachelor's life and isn't always responsive to the needs of his secretary, who would like to get paid more regularly. In the end he proves far more dedicated and brilliant than we might have first imagined him to be, but the fly in the buttermilk is that the better he gets the more complicated the case becomes, and the more ambiguous everything gets the more he finds out about his client and the man he killed. In this respect the movie is a masterpiece of ambiguity. Beautifully shot on location in black and white, it is more gray than anything else. Morally gray. No one is quite what he appears to be at first. And people change; or rather we learn more about them. The bartender at the resort where his boss was killed at first comes off as a jerk; in time he comes to seem more of a jerk. Then he seems maybe not so bad after all; and then he's a jerk once more, but a jerk we understand. The lawyer's assistant, an on-again, off-again recovering alcoholic, is also a mixed bag. He is dogged but sloppy, and always or so it appears on the verge of breakdown. Or at least this is how Arthur O'Connell plays him. The prosecuting attorney is a dolt, but he is aided by a legal bigwig the state has brought in, but this hotshot is no match for the cunning country lawyer. The defendant's wife, who 'started the whole thing' is gorgeous, sexy and provocative. She makes a play for her husband's lawyer, but he doesn't bite. One wonders about her. And one wonders about the marriage she and her hot-tempered spouse really have, and whether it will last.This is a very sophisticated and adult movie for 1959, or for that matter today. The location filming greatly enhances the mood, chilly and very upper midwestern. Yet indoors one feels different, and the tone is often playful. The actors are superb. James Stewart is gritty, lovable, homespun, physically slow and mentally quick; and for all the familiarity there is about his screen persona, out of character, that is, in character he manages continually to surprise and delight. He was a true actor. Ben Gazzara is very Method actorish, which suits him well in his role as the volatile military man. Lee Remick is stunning as his wife, and one can well imagine a man killing for her, many times over. She is also a good actress. George C. Scott plays the state's bulldog prosecutor well, though he's an acquired taste at best. His hamminess contrasts with Stewart's folksy naturalism in interesting ways not ungermane to the plot, but he is out-acted and outclassed by the old pro he is presumably upstaging in this film.
The use of 'daring' words in evidence caused controversy at that time.. (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
'Anatomy of a Murder' illustrates vividly how one lawyer repeatedly faces the heat of a controversial rape-case courtroom battle... The film might be Stewart's finest performance... For his magnificent achievement, Stewart was nominated for an Academy Award... The film itself received a total of seven Oscars in various categories, but was overtaken by William Wyler's 'Ben-Hur', the blockbuster of that year, whose star, Charlton Heston, beat out Stewart for best actor...'Anatomy of a Murder' is one of the few great racy courtroom melodramas ever put on the <more>
screen... It is a study of characters superbly detailed, in which a simple country lawyer zealously defends a young Army lieutenant charged with clearly gunning down a bar-owner who, he alleges, raped his young wife... The murder takes place some time after Remick tells her husband Gazzara she was rapedenough time to suggest that the killing was not done in the heat of passion but with some deliberation... Stewart, a warm bachelor lawyer with an old-fashioned grace of manner, is wonderfully believable as the qualified defense attorney, who tries to establish whether or not Lee Remick has been raped... He masterfully guides his defendant to the most exciting climax, repeatedly drawing forth evidence which he knows to be inadmissible, but which he wants the jury to hear... Stewart smokes cheap cigars, plays jazz piano, and restrains beautifully Remick's flirtatious overtures, but his benevolence is never in question... We see him hauling the provocative Remick from out of the bar telling her to be a good, and submissive housewife for the court...Stewart studies with a cynical eye the peculiar traits of the accused, tolerates, with amused resignation, his friend's drunken lapses, and competently makes his point to the judge and jury...Ben Gazzara proves to be a problematic client, close to uncooperative with his lawyer... Also, it is very clear that he is a jealously possessive man, which is enough to question the validity of the rape charge, he claims that he acted in a moment of insane anger... The film raises fascinating legal highlights on disorders of jealousy...Lee Remick gives a sensational performance as the sexy wife whose missing panties form a vital part of the evidence... Remick knows how to attract and seduce... She is so coquettish that she drives her angry husband to murder... The trial poses tricky questions: Was the Remick character in advanced levels of seduction during her wanderings at the neighborhood bar? Did her bruises come from the man whom she claimed raped her, or from her jealous husband? George C. Scott plays the sly, sardonic prosecuting attorney who offers the character a wonderful air of arrogance and superiority, unnerving with his aggressive antagonism witnesses and defense attorney...Arthur O'Connell rises to the occasion when his lawyer-hero needs him...Eve Arden is Stewart's faithful and efficient secretary eager that the Manion case might bring her a long-overdue paycheck... The courtroom fencing between Stewart and Scott is so convincing with the casting of Joseph N. Welch as the delightful ever-patient judge, Harlan Weaver... Judge Weaver, whose patience is repeatedly tried by the grotesque gestures of the lawyers in the case, appears too kindly to be much of a courtroom disciplinarian... But in the tension between the shrewd old judge and the lawyer for defense, the film raises a crucial issue on the rules of advocacy: To what extent a lawyer should represent a client zealously within the rules and norms of courtroom etiquette? Preminger's penchant for long takes and a mobile camera, rather than cuts and conversational reaction shots, here serves both to illuminate the crucial ambiguities in the characters, and to facilitate an objective appraisal of the mechanics of the legal process... Preminger challenges the American censors over the candid sexual terminology and explicit examination of rape in his courtroom drama... Ellington's score brilliantly captures the tension and the moral ambiguity that characterize the movie... Sam Leavitt's black-and-white photography is particularly impressive, setting as it does the stark mood of the authentic Michigan locations...
Does Guilt Or Innocence Actually Matter To The Court System? (by gftbiloxi)
Based on the famous Traver novel, ANATOMY OF A MURDER is an extremely complex film that defeats easy definition. In some respects it is a social document of the era in which it was made; primarily, however, it is a detailed portrait of the law at work and the mechanizations and motivations of the individuals involved in a seemingly straight-forward case. In the process it raises certain ethical issues re attorney behavior and the lengths to which an attorney might go to win a case.Paul Biegler James Stewart is a small-town lawyer who has recently lost a re-election for the position of <more>
District Attorney and who is down on his luck--when a headline-making case involving assault, alleged rape, and murder drops into his lap. As the case evolves, there is no question about the identity of the killer. But a smart lawyer might be able to get him off just the same and redeem his own career in the process, and with the aid of an old friend Arthur O'Connell and his formidable secretary Eve Arden , Biegler sets out to do precisely that. Opposing him in the courtroom is Claude Dancer George C. Scott , a high powered prosecutor who is equally determined to get a conviction... and who is no more adverse to coaching a witness than Biegler himself. The two square off in a constantly shifting battle for the jury, a battle that often consists of underhanded tactics on both sides.The performances are impressive, with James Stewart ideally cast as the attorney for the defense, Ben Gazzara as his unsavory client, and a truly brilliant Lee Remick as the sexy and disreputable wife who screams rape where just possibly none occurred; O'Connell, Arden, and Scott also offer superior performances. The script is sharp, cool, and meticulous, the direction and cinematography both effective and completely unobtrusive, and the famous jazz score adds quite a bit to the film as a whole.Although we can't help rooting for Stewart, as the film progresses it seems more and more likely that Remick is lying through her teeth and Gazzara is as guilty as sin--but the film balances its elements in such a way as to achieve a disturbing ambiguity that continues right through to the end. If you expect a courtroom thriller with sudden revelations and twists you'll likely be disappointed in ANATOMY OF A MURDER, but if you want a thought-provoking take on the law you'd be hard pressed to find one better. Recommended.Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
The sly old German, Preminger, proves a hard nut to crack today as in 1959 when the film was first issued. This is a denunciation of the trial-by-jury system, and apparently continues playing on today's viewers the same tricks it played its original ones. A gin-drinking, tough, cold blooded beast of an army veteran, beats his wife black when he catches her cheating with the local barman, shoots the offender and forces her to swear on the rosary she's a guilt ridden Catholic because she's divorced, and clings eagerly to her creed's symbols to lie to the authorities, claiming <more>
she's been raped by her lover, so her brute of a husband manages to obtain an "exception" as "temporarily insane" an 1885 case is unearthed to sustain the claims of his defense and get away with the murder. Which he does, helped by a former prosecutor Stewart whose place is been held by "an inferior mind" today and needs to prove to the others and himself he's not finished. Helped also by a judge whose lenience is established once he understands the defense attorney to be an equally passionate fisherman as he. Time and again the jury is advised to "disregard" what they have heard, whenever and it is very often the defense systematically overrules court procedure and creates impressions that favor the accused indeed this is a recurrent instance during that long trial. Everybody but the average viewer! is from a certain point on quite sure that the decorated soldier excellent Gazzara is guilty as charged, that his wife equally excellent Lee Remick is a loose morality woman, indeed a charming little harlot, that the murder has been one of cold premeditation and everybody is lying. But the system is such that impressions carry the day. This is a masterpiece of concealed realities and guilty consciences. As the defense lawyer and his "assistant" his crony, a sympathetic old drunkard, as keen for success as is Stewart's lawyer bless and praise juries while waiting for the verdict, as Stewart's faithful and likable secretary longs for victory only because she needs to see her long overdue paycheck made out to her, from the fee her employer is due to collect, Preminger is going all out to denounce the fallibility of the system in the most understated and at the same time the most deafening manner. I am amazed so few seem to realize this and lay instead the great value of that masterly directed, played and photographed film only to it's faithful, humorous, well paced and exciting depiction of the trial. This is a definite masterpiece of irony and hidden contempt, a movie angry as it is soft spoken and caressing both the public's sensibilities and the system's watchdogs apparently very stern during the late 50s.
The Good & Bad Of 'Anatomy Of A Murder' (by ccthemovieman-1)
This is another one of these Liberals' favorites for several reasons. - ahead of its politically- correct era, actually - in which the writers conveniently overlook justice in favor of style with the let's-sympathize-with-the-criminal mentality. It also had a topic and some language that was new and "daring" for its era, which gained it more favor from the critics. Today, this would be like a Disney movie.It's a courtroom drama film that lasts almost three hours, but in its day did such a good job of entertaining and shocking people that time was not a problem. I mean, <more>
audiences back then were not used to hearing details of women's panties! The story bogs down, panties aside, big-time in the middle, which was tolerated 50 years ago but wouldn't be today. I found it fascinating, myself, but that was years ago. You can thank great acting and an interesting script for that. What it lacks, of course, is credibility and justice .....but, hey, it's just a movie, right?Jimmy Stewart and George C. Scott are terrific as competing attorneys. Liberal Hollywood always takes the side of the accused so you know Stewart's role is going to be the likable one, a la Perry Mason, Matlock, Atticus Finch, etc. Nonetheless, acting from everyone in here makes you riveted to the screen. The language also was quite shocking for a 1959 film, in addition to rape details. A few examples were hearing the words "bitch" and "sperm."This story might have inspired all the "insanity pleas" that became popular afterward. If so, the film provided a negative service to this country. No one ever points out in the movie that - rage or not - you can't grab a gun and shoot somebody you're angry with and get away with it! Sometimes, that seems to be the message here.....that, somehow, that's okay. Well, as we know, it is permissible if your trial is in California.Ben Gazzara plays "Frederick Manion," the accused and a very fortunate man. His flirtatious wife "Laura" Lee Remick claims she was raped. She isn't our normal idea of an innocent victim, and she's one that's hard to evoke sympathy from, but that's part of the dramatics. By the way, speaking of dramatics, Lana Turner was supposed to play that role but reportedly got into a big tiff with director Otto Preminger and left the project. The two wound up slapping each other, reportedly. Back to the story: "Manion" says he was in a "trance" when he killed the guy and I guess that's good enough to believe if you talking to a jury filled with morons or you have the wonderful and always witty Jimmy Stewart defending you.We also get the normal Hollywood exaggeration of the good-guy defense attorney doing all this work out of the goodness of his heart or for just a minimum fee. I've never heard of one real-life lawyer like that. They want the money - all of it! And we get longtime alcoholic who can suddenly stop his habit and help the defense attorney. You can nitpick this film to death with all the legal proceedings that would never be allowed, but are in here for dramatic reasons, but you can do that for almost any movie.One other reason this film gets rated so highly by Left Wing critics is that the man who played the judge in the film was Joseph Welch, who was the actual judge who asked Sen. Joseph McCarthy if "he had no shame," making him instantly a hero to all Hollywood Liberals and film critics forever, all of whom hate McCarthy and his anti-Communism stance.Believability and bias aside, it's still an entertaining film, especially for one so talky, and is recommended for people who love courtroom dramas and don't care how long it goes on, and appreciate acting at its best.