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Judgement at Nuremburg

1961 motion picture starring Spencer Tracy, Richard Widmark and Burt Lancaster

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Without a doubt one of the greatest films ever made.

  • Dec 31, 2008
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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" features one of my all-time favorite actors Spencer Tracy cast as Chief Judge Dan Haywood who was chosen to oversee the post World War II tribunal convened to determine the culpability of four Nazi judges who were responsible for sending millions of Jews to concentration camps and ultimately to their deaths.  While the story in "Judgement at Nuremberg' is fictionalized it is clearly based on actual events that took place during the Nazi reign of terror.   Richard Widmark is splendid as Chief Prosecutor Col. Tad Lawson while Maximilian Schell walked away with an Oscar for Best Actor for his passionate portrayal of  lead defense attorney Hans Rolfe.  Other memorable performances include Burt Lancaster as defendant Dr. Ernst Janning, Marlene Dietrich as Mrs. Bertholt and of all people Judy Garland who was quite convincing in her brief but important role as Mrs. Irene Hoffman Wallner.
The Nuremberg Trials were conducted just a few years after the conclusion of World War II in 1948.  These proceedings, which lasted for about eight months, made headlines worldwide

What I found particularly compelling about "Judgement at Nuremberg" was observing Chief Judge Haywood continuously struggling with the enormity of the crimes that had been committed.  Although these events were familiar to just about everyone in that courtroom having to actually see, hear and digest the evidence proved quite unsettling to say the least.  Perhaps the most moving part of the film is several minutes of actual footage from the concentration camps that document the prosecutions case in an incredibly graphic way.  This is footage that you will likely never forget.

In my humble opinion, "Judgement at Nuremberg" should be required viewing for every high school student in America.  They say that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.   It is extremely important that our young men and women are aware of what took place here. At the same time, the students would get a chance to see one of the greatest films ever made.  Great performances and top notch writing make "Judgement At Nuremberg" one of those "must see"  motion pictures.  It is easy to see why in June 2008 the American Film Institute honored "Judgement At Nuremberg" as one of the 10 best courtroom dramas ever made.   Highly recommended!
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Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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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 ...

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