Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), an American living in London, is accused of killing an older woman who befriended him. His defense barrister (Charles Laughton) is convinced of the man's innocence but puzzled over the peculiar behavior of Mrs. Vole (Marlene Dietrich).
This movie's trailer touts the 'shocking' ending and, I have to say, I did find it so surprising that I immediately rewound the tape to watch and enjoy it again. Power is slick, handsome, and though he appears too old to be called 'young man' by his lawyer, he's very good. Laughton is the real star of the show and gives an outstanding performance full of wit and passion. He was rightly nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. His scenes with Elsa Lanchester are quite funny. Dietrich is mysterious until the very end, the epitome of an icy, cool, and calculating female. This is a very British story, with most of the action set in a courtroom. The dialogue is spirited and the pace is quick.
I had expected the movie to be dated and a bit dull, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Seriously one of the great courtroom dramas of all time. A taut, unpredictable mystery...one of Agatha Christie's finest twists, and she was the master of the unguessable ending. Accompanied by terrific characters (all colorful and over the top, but highly entertaining) played to the hilt by some truly fine actors, many of whom were reaching the ends of their serious careers (Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power) but were also at the very top of their games. I … more
Billy Wilder cowrote and directed this brilliant 1957 mystery based on Agatha Christie's celebrated play about an aging London barrister (Charles Laughton) who's preparing to retire when he takes the defense in the most vexing murder case of his distinguished career. In his final completed film (he died of a heart attack less than a year later), Tyrone Power plays the prime suspect in the murder of a wealthy widow, and Marlene Dietrich plays the wife of the accused, whose testimony--and true identity--holds the key to solving the case. A classic of courtroom suspense,Witness for the Prosecutionis one of those movies with enough double-crossing twists to keep the viewer guessing right up to the very end, when yet another surprise is deftly revealed. This being a Billy Wilder film, the dialogue is first-rate and the acting superb, with both Laughton and his offscreen wife Elsa Lanchester (playing the barrister's pesty nurse) winning Academy Awards for their performances. Although later films would concoct even more complicated courtroom scenarios, this remains one of the best films of its kind and a model for all those films that followed its lead.--Jeff Shannon