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Anatomy of a Murder

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 10.00.21 PMAnatomy of a Murder, 1959

Yet another movie with a passing/ flippant lead poisoning reference:

Paul Biegler (Jimmy Stewart’s Character):
Now, what’s this all about?

Parnell McCarthy (his friend):
A man named Barney Quill raped Mrs. Manion. Her husband, He’s a lieutenant in the army. There’s a temporary base in Thunder Bay.  Gunnery or something.  The lieutenant gos to Quill’s place and plugs Mr. Quill about five times, which causes Mr. Quill to promptly die of lead poisoning.

Paul Biegler: When did all this happen.

Parnell McCarthy: A couple of nights ago.


Note:  “Why does this matter?” you ask.   For me these are interesting examples of how lead poisoning (the term and the concept) are so ingrained in our culture that we barely even react to the mention of these words in a context like this.  If anything the reaction – both the intended reaction to the word choice and the actual reaction – is a laugh. Something to ponder…

Tamara Rubin
Executive Director
Lead Safe America Foundation

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