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Witness for the Prosecution Reviews

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Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 22, 2006
Witness for the Prosecution is a wonderfully-directed, by-the-numbers courtroom drama based on an Agatha Christie play. The story doesn't tread too much new ground but Charles Laughtron keeps the show going magnificently and more than makes up for it. Between this and Night of the Hunter he's my new favorite underrated actor. The chemistry between him and his real-life wife Elsa Lanchester as his buzzkill nurse is gold and Jesus, was Marlene Dietrich great! And as far as the musical number, can anyone say Blazing Saddles? The feeling that something isn't quite right tips you off to an impending twist but it winds up being more like a pretzel factory.
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
This movie was too boring, I didn't watch it all the way through.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

October 22, 2009
One of those films that shows how truly incredible films transcend time and place. Witness for the Prosecution had me gripped, more than any recent film has, or even tried to. Based on a play, the film is quite the talker, but every line of dialogue can only belong to the specific character saying those lines. It's a great character piece, with dazzling bouts of verbal fisticuffs and procedural moments of tension. The performances are so strong, so different, and yet, play seamlessly off one another. The film ends with a request, not to divulge the secret ending. Out of admirable respect for this film, I shan't. However, I enjoyed, and was surprised by every turn.
Red L

Super Reviewer

April 29, 2009
Whodunits are always interesting. A high-profile lawyer (Sir Wilfred Robarts) defends his client in court, but the client's wife provides some damning evidence. The court case gets resolved, but Sir Wilfred isn't happy as it seems too pat.

What I found interesting is that this movie was nominated for six Academy awards in 1957. Although it didn't win any of them, I was amazed it was considered Academy Award quality. I don't think it would be nominated today.
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

June 30, 2007
Great movie with an ending I never saw coming. Charles Laughton is always good, but Tyrone Power stood out for me as well.
Jennifer X

Super Reviewer

May 27, 2007
agatha christie is a tricky little devil and makes this twist-within-a-twist movie that is absolutely unforgettable.
Byron B

Super Reviewer

September 18, 2007
Really good twists (plural) at the end! Laughton, who I have liked from a couple other performances in the '30s, plays an English Barrister. He's recovering from a heart attach and any extreme emotional stress could jeopardize his health again. This is the first film in which I've seen Power or Dietrich appear. I wasn't too impressed by either early in the story, but when I saw the surprises at the end, I had a whole new appreciation for the way they played their roles. There's a strong case against suspect Power for the murder of a wealthy older woman. Some flashbacks reveal his side of the story, but you don't get to know the victim very well. Power's wife Dietrich is puzzling in the way she reacts to the news of her husband being accused, in the way she interacts with Laughton, and in the way she becomes a witness for the prosecution against her husband. Power is very charming, especially with the ladies, and has no trouble eliciting sympathy from the public. But the story is really about the true mystery of this guy's innocence or guilt.
Bryce I

Super Reviewer

July 4, 2011
It's not Billy Wilder's masterpiece, and it is not as intriguing, or entertaining as most of his previous work, but the film is still flawlessly cast, and extremely well directed. The suspense is driven beautifully, and the twists keep coming up until the final shocking climax. It's the film that changed the courtroom genre for the better, and will remain a classic until proven otherwise.
Alec B

Super Reviewer

April 28, 2012
I'll sit and listen to Charles Laughton be a witty, bad tempered old curmudgeon any day. The courtroom drama is fairly standard and its built around a pretty flimsy twist but its not terrible. For Laughton and Marlene Dietrich, its worth seeing.
Henrik S

Super Reviewer

February 19, 2008
They just don't make 'em like this anymore. A great courtroom / crime drama penned by the mighty and ever-popular Agatha Christie. This film kept me glued to the screen all the time and now I remember why I keep telling people that if they want me to stay in one place for 2 hours, just throw in something that has been produced during the golden Age of Hollywood ! I adored the actors, Laughton is an enigma, Dietrich better than expected (why no Academy Award nomination at least?), Lanchester does her goofy stuff and so does Una O' Connor, who I recognised from the Invisible Man. I also enjoyed seeing John Williams in action, one of my favourite B-Movie actors. The only setback was Tyrone Power, I never really liked him that much as an actor, he lacks the verve and suave for sophisticated roles, such as this one and I just wonder how much more intense this would have been with someone else in the lead. That is why I have to deduce half a star from the rating - alas. The showdown truly is a high noon of court room dramas and you will be left speechless once the credits role. An incredible masterpiece.
Sunil J

Super Reviewer

August 4, 2008
Good performances. Not Billy Wilder's best but still well executed.I thought Diana Rigg was a better Christine Helm in the remake though.
Stephen E

Super Reviewer

August 6, 2012
Billy Wilder's well-directed courtroom drama "Witness for the Prosecution" has all the trademarks of a classic, and it works well as both a thriller and a drama. Charles Laughton's rich, theatrical performance is consistently amusing, and Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich offer remarkable support. The script is elaborate in its construction and it's exhilarating to watch as it endlessly unravels. In the big scheme of things, "Witness for the Prosecution" is not the crowning jewel of its genre, but it certainly stands out as one of the better ones.
Lauren D

Super Reviewer

November 28, 2009
When it started, I was like 'ZOMG this fat guy suckzz!I!#!@#!'. But, I got used to him. Then when the trial actually started, I started to really enjoy it. By the end of the movie I was quite amazed at how good it was, considering I really didn't like Marlene Dietrich. BUT, at the end of the movie I realized she wasn't that bad. I was happy at the ending, until the last thing ended and was almost tempted to take down the rating but didn't.
Anastasia B

Super Reviewer

October 15, 2009
I can't tell you how much I enjoy these old classics, especially Billy Wilder's work. It's almost immaculate. Particularly I admire the wit and the style of his film-making, evident here as well. Marlene Dietrich is her legendary self, and Charles Laughton's unforgettable... Enjoy!!!!!
Audrey L

Super Reviewer

June 3, 2009
Now this is classic film noire from the golden age of movies.What a performance by Marlene Dietrich.Delicious plot twists and a great performance from Charles Laughton as the shrewd and jaded defense lawyer. Finally-Tyrone Power as the accused.What a cast-what a movie!!
Dracula787
Dracula787

Super Reviewer

March 20, 2008
I?ve always been a fan of courtroom dramas; in fact I?ve seen every single episode of Law & Order (which is no easy task.) For this reason I?m surprised I hadn?t already seen this very famous court room drama which was nominated for an Oscar in 1957, one of my favorite cinematic years. When I consider that this was directed by Billy Wilder and featured a very strong cast, I?m really shocked it took this long.

The film chronicles the trial of a man named Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), who stands accused of murdering an old woman in order to gain her inheritance. The prosecution?s case is largely circumstantial and an aging barrister named Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) decides to come out of near retirement in order to defend his innocence. The wildcard in the mix is that the key witness in the case, Vole?s wife Christine (Marlene Dietrich), appears to be a femme fatale and where her real allegiance lies is as much of a mystery to be solved.

The film is based on a short story by the famous mystery writer Agatha Christie. As that author?s name would suggest, the film is at its core a mystery rather than a court room procedure. Like a mystery the film has all the meticulous structure one would expect, in fact that is the film?s strong point. All the clues and red herrings are perfectly planted and play out wonderfully.

The film has a great ensemble cast and at the center is the legendary Charles Laughton. Laughton shows all the charisma one would expect from a Barrister of his character?s reputation, but he also displays a physical frailty, one can see he?s putting his very essence into the case. Tyrone Power is also great here in his final screen role, the man he plays is a complete tool you can?t help but feel sorry for, and that is thanks largely to Power?s performance. Marlene Dietrich is also very strong here as the stone faced wife of the accused. Unfortunately the producers priorities with Dietrich were clearly misplaced and a very stupid flashback scene was tacked on for no reason than to get a glimpse at one of her famous legs.

The film?s director, Billy Wilder, is one of if not the, most important directors of the 50s. Many say that he, along with Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Otto Preminger, brought a new level of maturity to Hollywood films in the era. Wilder brought new levels of intellect to Hollywood with such films as The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard, Ace in the Hole, and The Apartment. This intellectual innovation is not really on display in Witness for the Prosecution, but it is a very well told story nonetheless, and the film is a very fun ride.
Anthony V

Super Reviewer

August 13, 2007
Let's see.... Billy Wilder.... Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, and one of the best twists ever.... hm. what should I rate this movie?
December 22, 2013
Very good movie with random, unforeseen plot twists. Very good movie with good acting. I was surprised that I liked it so much.
May 8, 2013
Witness for the Prosecution is old-fashioned, theatrical film-making from one of Hollywood's all-time great directors.
August 26, 2012
Agatha Christie! Marlene Dietrich! Charles Laughton! Tyrone Power! Can't get much better than that.
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