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Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 6 February 1958 (USA)
A veteran British barrister must defend his client in a murder trial that has surprise after surprise.



(in Agatha Christie's international stage success), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
4,087 ( 140)

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Top Rated Movies #71 | Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Francis Compton ...
Philip Tonge ...


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


Once in 50 years suspense like this! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

6 February 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Testigo de cargo  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Less than two months after "Witness for the Prosecution" by Agatha Christie had a London premiere, it opened on Broadway at Henry Miller's Theater on December 16, 1953 and ran for 645 performances. Una O'Connor reprized her role in the movie. See more »


Though made in 1957, the film takes place in 1952, but in the opening shots of Sir Wilfrid's car on the streets of London (and in the rear-projection shots in the car's interior), several post-1952 cars can be seen in the background. See more »


Mrs. French: You know, maybe I'll take a glass of sherry, myself. I feel like Christmas, somehow. Ha-ha.
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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 »


Referenced in Cheers: Bar Bet (1985) See more »


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)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Superb and unjustly maligned film
31 July 2004 | by (San Francisco, California) – See all my reviews


I'm not sure I have the ability to adequately praise this film. The original short story(rather unremarkable, actually)has been expanded into a magnificent example of Hollywood entertainment at its best. In addition to perhaps the finest line-up of character actors ever assembled(next to Cukor's David Copperfield, that is), we get Laughton and Dietrich at the top of their form. The person who criticised Lanchester's performance as "annoying" missed the point entirely. Miss Plimsoll is meant to be annoying! Also, what's with all the bad-mouthing of Tyrone Power? "Hammy"; "terrible"; "worst performance ever". These are the perceptive IMDb reviews? Only one of you got it right: it's hammy because Leonard Vole is the one acting, not Power! For 95% of the film, the character is dissembling, only showing his true colors at the end. Of course it looks hammy: Vole isn't a born actor like his wife. And to all those know-it-alls who called this film mediocre and predictable, I look forward to your upcoming film projects which I'm sure will be paragons of excellence and worthy to be set alongside classics of the golden age.

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