Witness For the Prosecution (1957)

witness“The question is whether you were lying then or are you lying now… or whether in fact you are a chronic and habitual LIAR! ” – Sir Wilfrid

Number of Times Seen – 2 (18 May 2000 and 7 Feb 2017)

Brief Synopsis – A British Barrister takes on the case of a man accused of murdering a wealthy local socialite who named him as her beneficiary.

My Take on it – This is one of the best courtroom drama’s ever written because it is so captivating the entire way through.

The cast is superb, but I especially liked the performance by Charles Laughton as the barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts.

Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Powers are also great as the accused and his wife.

This was written by Agatha Christie and is filled with so many twists, turns and surprises that it’s so much fun watching it all unfold before us.

The story seems quite simple, but it is layered so well that it’s more and more enjoyable after each new viewing.

This film was nominated for Best Picture that year and was deserving of such an honor, but the fact that the rest of the films also nominated that year are all stellar films, it didn’t have much of a chance.

The other four films nominated that year were: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Twelve Angry Men (1957), Peyton Place (1957) and Sayanora (1957)

Bottom Line – Laughton is amazing here as the barrister.  Expertly written by Christie because they keep hitting us with more and more surprises as things keep moving.  One of the best courtroom dramas ever filmed because it is done so well.  Definitely deserved the Best Picture Nomination but it was such a strong year that even an amazing film like this didn’t have much of a chance. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Charles Laughton, who could be moody and difficult, was apparently a dream to work with, throwing himself into the role with dedication and delight. Billy Wilder later recalled a day that was set aside just for shooting reaction shots of the jury and courtroom crowd (composed of extras hired only for the day). Normally, the assistant director would read the actors’ lines and the extras would react. However, Laughton, who was fascinated with the whole process of filmmaking, begged to help. So he came in on his day off and read all of the off-camera speeches for the jury members. He read not only his part, but also the judge’s, the prosecutor’s and even Marlene Dietrich’s. According to biographer Maurice Zolotow in his book “Billy Wilder in Hollywood”, the author said, “it was an exhibition of craftsmanship such as Wilder had never seen. He believes that Charles Laughton had the greatest technical range and power of any actor, man or woman, whom he has known.” (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy


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6 thoughts on “Witness For the Prosecution (1957)

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  5. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1957 | MovieRob

  6. Pingback: Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actress – Oscars 1957 | MovieRob

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