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Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Crime | 116 minutes
3,87 605 votes

Genre: Crime / Drama

Duration: 116 minuten

Country: United States

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Stars: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton

IMDb score: 8,4 (137.674)

Releasedate: 17 December 1957

Witness for the Prosecution plot

"The most electrifying entertainment of our time!"

Lawyer Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) has just returned to work after suffering a heart attack. The doctors advise him to stop working. However, when he learns of the Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power) case, who has been charged with murder, he can't resist.

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Full Cast & Crew

Actors and actresses

Sir Wilfrid Robarts

Leonard Vole

Christine Vole

Miss Plimsoll


Emily Jane French

Janet McKenzie

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avatar van IH88


  • 8782 messages
  • 3088 votes

“I'll give ya somethin' to dream about, Mister. Wanna kiss me, ducky?”

Rock solid court film. Why this movie isn't classed as comedy is beyond me as I had to laugh a lot at Laughton's dry and sarcastic humor and some of the situations (swallowing pills with brandy during a court hearing, sure). Witness for the Prosecution shows what kind of film you get when you execute a seemingly simple plot to perfection.

Someone is suspected of murder, a brilliant lawyer who has just had a heart attack has to defend him and the wife of the suspect who turns everything upside down as a witness. The story unfolds without fuss and I enjoyed the murder mystery, the humor, the drama, the actors and the British justice system. I can't think of a movie where the balance between humor and drama is so perfectly balanced. Dietrich has a wonderfully cool and mysterious role and together with the genius Laughton she manages to keep the viewer's attention effortlessly. What a fantastic acting by both. The ending is full of twists and it's a bit over the top but I could have it with this movie. Witness for the Prosecution is rightly regarded as one of the best courtroom films of all time.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original

avatar van Dievegge


  • 3010 messages
  • 7709 votes

Charles Laughton comes across as a friendly bear. When reaction shots were shot from the audience in the courtroom, he himself came to read the different characters with corresponding voices and movements. He borrowed the trick with the monocle as a lie detector from a real lawyer. It turns out to be an unreliable detector. Sir Wilfrid barks at people and ignores doctor's advice, but is passionate as a lawyer and soon commands sympathy.

Marlene Dietrich is hard to spot in her disguise. That's because in her normal appearance she wore a lot of makeup, a wig and tape to pull up her skin. She also changes her accent from German to flat English. In the flashback, she wears her hair down to appear younger. Christine comes across as an opportunist and intriguer at first, , but later it turns out that she still possesses a form of sincerity.

The secondary roles include seasoned actors such as Ian Wolfe and Elsa Lanchester. Bess Flowers is also back in one of her countless extra roles. She is often seen in the audience behind a pleading Charles Laughton.

Agatha Christie herself changed the ending when she turned her short story into a play, because the killer wasn't allowed to go free. Billy Wilder and his screenwriters added the nurse as a comedic side character. Precious is the moment when Sir Wilfrid replaces his bottle of chocolate milk with a bottle of brandy under her eyes.

In terms of legal procedures, it is not all correct. For example, new evidence is presented during the trial. What matters, however, is the exciting story build-up with surprising twists, moments of recognition, fun characters and humor. At the time, spectators in the cinema had to swear an oath that they would not reveal the denouement. We will not do that.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original

avatar van Movsin


  • 7758 messages
  • 8116 votes

Clever twists and turns in this justice film. To make Hitchcock jealous. Clear and clear dialogues, with the necessary humor, and also excellent work by several actors, especially Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester.

The versatility of director Billy Wilder is again underlined here. Considered over his entire career: a top filmmaker.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original