ANATOMY OF CASTING
When Remick met with Preminger in his office, his previous impression of her was confirmed. She was attractive with an expressive, unconventional face. She was also, very pregnant – in her eight month. By the time shooting started she would have had her baby, but it was a risky thing. Still he gave her the script to read. She had not finished reading the script when Preminger phoned her to say, "I'm sorry but I've signed Lana Turner for the part. But there is the second lead—would you like to play it?"
She was eight months pregnant and not the least interested in the role and told him so. "I did a very brave thing," Remick said, "or, perhaps, a very foolish thing. I told him, 'No, thank you, I really would not!'" Preminger was stunned.
Remick had her baby on January 28 and a month later was beginning to ponder the wisdom of her refusal. She was barely 23 years old and at a very early stage in her career. Even a second lead in a Preminger movie would have been a step forward. She was not left to ponder for long.
"Gus Schirmer called and said that Preminger had fired Lana Turner and that I was to go to the coast in the morning. Thinking it was a joke, I said, 'Very funny,' and hung up.
"I had fired the nanny that morning and was frantically trying to make formula for my daughter—without poisoning her. The stuff was boiling over on the stove when Gus called back, pleading: 'Don't hang up. It's true.' Apparently, Lana Turner had fought with Otto about clothes—and God knows what else."
With her baby just four weeks old, "Almost straight from the clinic," Remick flew to California. As she stepped into Preminger's office he said: "The part is yours."
"Emotionally, I was not up to making a picture. But once I get into the play—and it's always that way—I forget everything else but the character I'm playing."
"Anatomy of a Murder" went on to become one of the most popular pictures of 1959. It was the American entry in the 1959 Venice film festival and was voted the best picture of the year by the trade paper, Film Daily.
Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called it "well nigh flawless." Commenting on Remick's performance he said, "Lee Remick treads beautifully a fine line between never-resolved uncertainties." Paul V. Beckley wrote in the New York Herald Tribune, "Miss Remick's gauzy-brained and brassy wife is as precise as anyone could ask...She plays it right to the point."
Remick was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress award and her performance established her as an actress of considerable power and versatility.
Looking back on the part years later, Remick said, "It was a big step forward in my career. It established me."
Sources: "Behind the Scenes of Otto Preminger" by Willi Frischauer "Lee Remick" by Michael Buckley
-- by Allison