Otto Preminger sued Columbia Pictures and its TV subsidiary Screen Gems when it sold this film in a package of 60 films to television for $10 million. In New York, ABC interrupted the 160-minute film 13 times with 36 commercials. Preminger was furious that his film was being mutilated and took them to court in a highly publicized case. He lost.
James Stewart's father was so offended by the film, which he deemed "a dirty picture", that he took out an ad in his local newspaper telling people not to see it.
Part of the controversy surrounding this movie was because it included use of the words "bitch", "contraceptive", "panties", "penetration", "rape", "slut" and "sperm".
The part played by Lee Remick was first offered to Lana Turner, who agreed to take it on the condition that she would wear gowns designed exclusively by her personal couturier, Jean Louis. When director Otto Preminger objected that such gowns were not suitable for the role, Turner turned down the part. Columbia was ready to give in to Turner's demands but Preminger resisted and gave the role to Remick, then almost a beginner.
Otto Preminger originally wanted Lee Remick for the part of Laura because he had been impressed with her debut in A Face in the Crowd (1957) and knew that she could play a young sultry woman (even though she was eight months pregnant when Preminger approached her for the role). A few weeks later he called to tell her that he had given the part to Lana Turner and instead offered her the smaller role of Mary Pilant, but Remick boldly refused. Later, on an especially hectic day she received a call saying that she did indeed have the part of Laura because Turner turned it down, she thought it was a joke and hung up. It took another phone call to convince her.
This was James Stewart's last Oscar-nominated performance. It also was George C. Scott's first Oscar-nominated performance.
Mrs. Joseph N. Welch, real-life wife of the judge, is a member of the jury. It is reported that Welch accepted his part in the movie if his wife could be on the jury.
The interior of Barney Quill's bar is not a movie set. It's the interior of the Lumberjack Tavern in Big Bay, MI, and is the place where the actual murder on which the novel and film are based took place in 1952. This is believed to be first time a movie was filmed at the actual scene of the crime.
The movie's poster was voted #1 of "The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever" by Premiere magazine.
Saul Bass designed the titles/poster for both this film and Vertigo (1958). The image of the body is very similar in both.
The "law library" in the courthouse was actually filmed in the Carnegie Public Library in Ishpeming, MI. The door that was opened in the courthouse, which is in Marquette, was the door to the men's restroom. The movie was filmed on location in Marquette County, MI.
Along with Glory (1989), Crimson Tide (1995), Independence Day (1996), and The Dark Knight (2008), this is one of only five films whose purely orchestral soundtracks won the Grammy Award for Best Score despite not being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
The part of the judge was offered to both Spencer Tracy and Burl Ives, but instead went to Joseph N. Welch who was a lawyer in real life who had represented the U.S. Army in the televised Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954. This archive footage almost at the end of Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
In June 2008 this film was ranked #7 on the American Film Institute's list of the ten greatest films in the genre "Courtroom Drama".
Chuck Ramsay, a sportscaster on WBAY in Green Bay, WI, played a small part as an orderly. Whenever the station ran this film on its late-night schedule, it was always billed as "starring Chuck Ramsay".
James Daly replaced Pat Hingle in the role of Mitch Lodwick after Hingle was injured in a fall down an elevator shaft. Daly then left the production to appear in a Broadway play and was replaced by Brooks West, the husband of Eve Arden, who appeared as Maida Rutledge in the film.
The murder took place at Thunder Bay Inn, on the south shore of Lake Superior. The movie came out 11 years before there was a city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the north shore, which was formed in 1970 by the merger of Fort William and Port Arthur.
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
The fact that James Stewart's middle name is Maitland and the judge who was replaced by Judge Weaver was Judge Maitland is coincidental; Judge Maitland was mentioned in John D. Voelker's (Robert Traver's) novel "Anatomy Of A Murder," which preceded the movie and its casting.
The film cast includes two Oscar winners: James Stewart and George C. Scott; and four Oscar nominees: Arthur O'Connell, Lee Remick, Duke Ellington and Eve Arden.
The bartender's name at the place where Parnell is drinking at the very beginning is Toivo, and the guard's name at the county jail is Sulo. Both of these names are Finnish. The movie is set in Michigan, which has a large Finnish population after lots of people emigrated from the Nordic countries into the US and Canada from the late 19th century until the mid 20th century. Finnish names usually don't really have a specific meaning, but Toivo means "hope" and Sulo is probably derived from the word "suloinen", which means "sweet", "charming" or "adorable".
The only film of 1959 to be Oscar nominated for Best Picture, and not Best Director.
Manion's dress uniform reveals his decorations include the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.
When Judge Weaver first introduces himself to the courtroom, he says he is "sitting in temporarily while your good Judge Maitland is recovering from a severe illness." Maitland is James Stewart's middle name.
The police car sitting in the parking lot of the jail is a 1959 Edsel sedan. Few Edsels were used as "official" vehicles by local or state governments, especially law-enforcement agencies; it was more common to find a Ford, Chevy or Plymouth used by those agencies.
When James Stewart's character goes to the hotel to visit Kathryn Grant, the clerk at the desk is reading Leon Uris' "Exodus". One year later, director Otto Preminger would go on to direct its film version, Exodus (1960). Lee Remick and Ben Gazzara would also go on to play a couple in the TV mini-series version of Uris'' QB VII (1974).
Emile Meyer was initially cast as Sheriff Battisfore, but was forced to withdraw after he broke his arm in a car accident.
The film was premiered in the UK at the Columbia Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London at its full 161 minute length in October 1959. Columbia's UK division then asked Preminger to cut the film by 20 minutes which he did on the understanding that the cut version would only be shown in small town cinemas, but not in London. Columbia then supplied the cut version to its regular UK outlet, Rank, for general release including London. Preminger was furious , especially as Rank inserted an intermission which the director did not authorize.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
James Stewart's character Biegler is generally cited as being the reason why he was cast as smalltown West Virginia lawyer Billy Jim Hawkins in the 1973-74 TV series Hawkins (1973).
Manion's dress uniform reveals he saw combat while assigned to the 7th Infantry Division.