Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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Excellent courtroom drama with great performances by Laughton and Dietrich.
it was very entertaining movie from start to finish,
A great twisted tale with fantastic performances.
I thought most of "Witness for the Prosecution" was a solid legal drama full of many surprising moments. Where this movie really shines for me is the ending, which I genuinely did not see coming. This movie kept me guessing and presented a fairly interesting story. A lot of newer movies will have twists and surprises for the sake of having them but I thought they were well put together in this movie and never forced. I think if you like these sort of mystery movies, this classic is a very good example of it. The movie has aged a bit in some ways, but because of a well put together, its a movie that will hold up well for years to come.
As much of an ass as this lawyer is, he's actually very charming and funny. Charles Laughton is wonderful in this movie. He makes acting seem so seamless. He's definitely a natural at it and an extremely witty person.
What a twist at the end and I cannot believe I didn't see how Christine was in disguise that one time. It was so entertaining to watch the ending unfold and how everything was resolved. It's also just as interesting how much everyone involved in the movie wanted to keep secret the ending and the twist at the end.
Usually courtroom dramas can be dragged out and fall victim to being boring. But Billy Wilder being the amazing director, writer and producer that he is, he was able to keep a courtroom drama fresh and entertaining. Another terrific film done by the great Billy Wilder.
Great interplay of humour with thrill, a good base for courtroom dramas. A classic in its own right, this movie had some good acting, great pace and rightful twists. Tight plot.
I had always known that Marlene Dietrich was a great movie star as she has a striking face, lilting German accent and a certain je ne sais quoi that few other performers could touch. She had never stood out as a brilliant actress to me however as her work in Morocco (1930) and The Garden of Allah (1936) largely rely on her glamorous screen persona and do not give her the opportunity to extend herself. It was a shock then to see her give a delightfully frothy comedic performance in a Billy Wilder film as she utilizes her sex appeal and ability for slapstick comedy to great effect. She is the primary selling point of the film as while Elsa Lanchester and Charles Laughton are entertaining enough you can't help but miss her when she is not on screen.
Inventor Leonard Vole, Tyrone Power, is suspected of murdering the elderly Mrs. Emily French, Norma Varden, to gain access to the money she had left him in her will. Vole hires famed barrister Sir Wilfrid Robards, Charles Laughton, to defend him but Robards is facing significant health problems and is under the watchful eye of his nurse Miss Plimsoll, Elsa Lanchester, who annoys him greatly. Robards defends his client, believing he is guilty, but their case is complicated by the fact that Vole's German wife Christine, Marlene Dietrich, serves as a witness for the prosecution as she claims that she and Vole are not officially married as she is actually married to a German man and accuses her husband of being guilty. Robards wins the case because he is able to find evidence that suggests that Christine was lying. Revelations about the source of his information leave him confounded and his loyalties must shift.
Few directors have as light a touch as Wilder as he produces possibly the best film adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel by leaning into the comedic aspects of her stories and playing to the talents of his cast. He is able to propel the film along at a relatively quick pace making us more invested in the characters than in the courtroom drama. He gives Laughton, Lanchester and especially Dietrich room to play and there is that occasional touch of melancholy that he would put to such good use in The Apartment (1960). He doesn't get lost in unnecessary details surrounding the mystery as some directors would have and gives the film an episodic structure that is somewhat necessary with a film like this. He was deserving of his Best Director nomination as while few would count this among his strongest work he pulls together a story that could have fallen into disarray in the hands of a lesser director such as Kenneth Branagh.
The performances are really what needs to be discussed because as much as Wilder's sure hand is indispensable he needs the work of a talent like Laughton to make the film shine. He has bluster and more than enough gravitas to make us slightly afraid when he takes against those around him but he is also playful and charming in his own way. He finds particular inspiration in scenes when he is asked to engage in verbal sparring with Lanchester as his put downs of her and prissiness in response to her properness elicits laughter. Much must also be said of Lanchester who is delightfully buttoned up in a role that gives her some great dialogue to work with and allows her to put her guileless expressions to good use. Power makes an interesting murder suspect as he is effectively mercurial, likable at one moment and sinister at the next, with his use as a supporting actor being better than his efforts as a leading man in The Mask of Zorro (1940). Even Ruta Lee, who only has about five minutes of screen time, is deliciously nasty and rude in the way that only villains in Wilder movies can be as she has touches of Fred MacMurray as Jeff D. Sheldrake.
To a modern audience this may seem like a strange choice for a Best Picture nomination but in comparison to the more traditionally prestigious Sayonara (1957) and Peyton Place (1957) this is a masterpiece.
This brilliant and entertaining film by Billy Wilder is based on a the brilliant and entertaining book by Agatha Christie. One stroke of genius is how we are distracted from the twists and turns of the murder mystery and the courtroom drama by the story of the larger-than-life barrister played by Charles Laughton, in the performance of a lifetime. Our interest in him, in his views of the case, in his thought process, and in his often humorous exchanges with his nurse and colleagues, draw our attention away from the case itself in such a way that we become victims ourselves. And when the ending is revealed, we are ecstatic to have been duped so thoroughly.
A couple of the characters got me wincing at places with the overacting but this is a film that had me interested the whole time, I can understand it being a courtroom classic. Its no 12 Angry Men but a solid production.
This is an amazing movie that will keep you guessing until the very last moment. The producer & director did a marvelous job telling the story of a man accused of murder. The movie has bits of comedic moments which just add to the enjoyment of this plot. Marlene dietrich does a wonderful job with tyrone power. Each are rarely in the same scene but their story lines are intertwined. This is a must see!!