8.4/10
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Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

A veteran British barrister must defend his client in a murder trial that has surprise after surprise.

Director:

Billy Wilder

Writers:

Agatha Christie (in Agatha Christie's international stage success), Billy Wilder (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
4,086 ( 110)
Top Rated Movies #65 | Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tyrone Power ... Leonard Vole
Marlene Dietrich ... Christine
Charles Laughton ... Sir Wilfrid Roberts
Elsa Lanchester ... Miss Plimsoll
John Williams ... Brogan-Moore
Henry Daniell ... Mayhew
Ian Wolfe ... Carter
Torin Thatcher ... Mr. Myers
Norma Varden ... Mrs. Emily Jane French
Una O'Connor ... Janet MacKenzie
Francis Compton ... Judge
Philip Tonge ... Inspector Hearne
Ruta Lee ... Diana
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Storyline

It's Britain, 1953. Upon his return to work following a heart attack, irrepressible barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts, known as a barrister for the hopeless, takes on a murder case, much to the exasperation of his medical team, led by his overly regulated private nurse, Miss Plimsoll, who tries her hardest to ensure that he not return to his hard living ways - including excessive cigar smoking and drinking - while he takes his medication and gets his much needed rest. That case is defending American war veteran Leonard Vole, a poor, out of work, struggling inventor who is accused of murdering his fifty-six year old lonely and wealthy widowed acquaintance, Emily French. The initial evidence is circumstantial but points to Leonard as the murderer. Despite being happily married to East German former beer hall performer Christine Vole, he fostered that friendship with Mrs. French in the hopes that she would finance one of his many inventions to the tune of a few hundred pounds. It thus does ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Once in 50 years suspense like this! See more »


Certificate:

14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

6 February 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Getuige à charge See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$8,175,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$16,350,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When the film was released, Agatha Christie said it was the only movie based on one of her stories she had actually liked. Later, after Murder on the Orient Express (1974) was filmed, she said she liked that one too. See more »

Goofs

At one point in the movie they receive a phone call from the "witness" and there is an American-made Western Electric "Model 500" Key System phone in the background. See more »

Quotes

Sir Wilfrid: Ah, Miss Plimsoll, how alluring you look. Waiting like a hangman on the scaffold...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Before the film begins, a message appears onscreen saying that to avoid ruining the effect of the surprise ending, patrons should not take their seats during the last few minutes of the movie. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jury Duty (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

I May Never Go Home Anymore
Music by Ralph Arthur Roberts
Lyrics by Jack Brooks
Sung by Marlene Dietrich (uncredited)
Reprised a cappella by Tyrone Power (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Another triumph for cinematic genius Billy Wilder!
3 February 2005 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Billy Wilder is a director with an understanding of cinema that is almost unmatched throughout the medium's entire history - that's why his films are always so good. Witness for the Prosecution is yet another highlight in the great director's history, and it proves that courtroom dramas can be both riveting and a great opportunity for some first rate comedy. Wilder's film features one of the most well paced plots I've ever seen in a film, and it's a plot that includes some very finely tuned twists. Towards the end, Wilder bombards us with twist after twist, each one both making sense and topping the one before it. In a time when people are impressed by films such as 'The Sixth Sense', Billy Wilder still shows us how to skilfully attribute a twist into a film's plot. The plot itself follows the story of Sir Wilfrid Robarts; an ace defence lawyer that has been told that his health won't allow him to tackle anything more than mundane cases, but is brought back into the fray when a case involving the murder of an elderly woman comes into his hands. Wilfrid must now juggle the case and his health as he attempts to keep the young man from being sent down.

Like all Wilder films, this one is a very pleasurable viewing. Wilder manages to find a middle ground between substance and entertainment, and so this is a film that will please fans of both aspects. The film is deliriously entertaining throughout, with some truly great lines of dialogue (most of which is very quotable) and every twist adds a new level to the story. The substance comes from a multitude of angles, and themes of love, health, sacrifice and most notably, justice, are all more than prevalent. The acting is certainly of note in Witness for the Prosecution. Charles Laughton is absolutely sublime as the undermining and stubborn Wilfrid Robarts; his performance is very strong, and makes up the backbone of the film. The main supporting performance comes from Marlene Dietrich. I'm not a big fan of hers; despite having a great pair of legs, she just doesn't do anything for me, but in this film she brings sufficient coldness to her character and really makes it her own. The final main performance comes from Tyrone Power; he isn't as great as the other two, but does enough with his character to ensure he's believable. Highly recommended viewing!


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