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Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) is a fictionalized film account of the post-World War II Nuremberg Trials, written by Abby Mann and directed by Stanley Kramer, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, Werner Klemperer, and William Shatner. Originally written for television,[1] the film depicts the trial of certain judges who executed Nazi law. Such a trial did occur: the film was inspired by the Judges' Trial before the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunal in 1947. By the time the film was made, all of the convicts had already been released, including four of them who were sentenced to life in prison. A key thread in the film's plot involves a "race defilement" trial known as the "Feldenstein case". In this fictionalized case, based on the real life Katzenberger Trial, an elderly Jewish man was tried for an improper relationship with an "Aryan" woman, and put to death in 1942.

The film examines the questions of individual complicity in crimes committed by the state. It does not shy away from difficult issues. For example, defense attorney Hans Rolfe (Schell) raises such thorny issues as the support of a U.S. Supreme Court justice for the practice of eugenics, and Winston Churchill's words of praise for Adolf Hitler.

One noteworthy scene is the testimony of Rudolph Petersen, a German civilian baker, who, considered mentally incompetent, was sterilized by the Nazis in accordance with their social laws. As played by Montgomery Clift, Petersen's nervousness about recounting the horrific tale of his past is visible from the start; he shifts and fidgets constantly on the stand and stammers in his speech. The tension is further amplified when he is cross-examined by defense attorney Rolfe, who reveals that Petersen was removed from school for an inability to learn and because his mother was also deemed mentally incompetent.

During the course of the trial, prosecuting attorney Col. Tad Lawson (Richard Widmark) shows the actual historical footage filmed by American soldiers after the liberation of the concentration camps. The footage and its use in a mainstream American film is historically significant. It was one of the first attempts by the American film industry and mass media to expose the American public at large to the full nature and scope of the Nazi atrocities.

The film ends with judge Haywood having to choose between patriotism and justice. He rejects the call to let the Nazi judges off lightly to gain Germany's support in the cold war against the Soviet Union.[2]

The movie won the Academy Award for Best Actor (Maximilian Schell) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Spencer Tracy), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Montgomery Clift), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Judy Garland), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White (Rudolph Sternad, George Milo), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture. [3] This is one of the few times that a film had multiple entries in the same category (Tracy and Schell for Best Actor), and Schell was the first Best Actor winner to be billed fifth. Many of the big name actors who appeared in the film did so for a fraction of their usual salaries because they believed so deeply in the social importance of the project.

In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Judgment at Nuremberg was acknowledged as the tenth best film in the courtroom drama genre.[4] Many sources consider it to be one of the finest trial movies of all time.

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CastBurt Lancaster, Spencer Tracy, Marlene Dietrich, Torben Meyer, Alan Baxter, Maximilian Schell, Richard Widmark, Otto Waldis, Karl Swenson, Ray Teal, John Wengraf, Virginia Christine, Joseph E. Bernard, Judy Garland, Ben Wright, Howard Caine, Werner Klemperer, Martin Brandt, Kenneth MacKenna, Olga Fabian
DirectorStanley Kramer
Genre:  Drama
Release Date:  December 19, 1961
MPAA Rating:  Unrated
Runtime:  186 minutes
Studio:  Roxlon Films Inc., United Artists
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review by . December 31, 2008
Nuremberg 1
When was the last time you were able to stay wide awake and interested for a three hour movie?  I usually have a tough time staying alert for a two hour flick.  "Judgement At Nuremberg" is one of those rare motion pictures that grabs your attention at the outset and simply never lets go.   The issues addressed in this film are monumental and the all-star cast make this one of the most compelling films that I have ever seen.  "Judgement at Nuremberg" …
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