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
While it is generally supposed that Agatha Christie chose the name Vole after the ratlike rodent of the same name, in fact the word has several other meanings also relevant to this character. In cards, a "vole" means the winning by one player of all the tricks of a game. And the expression "go the vole" can mean either to venture everything on the chance of great rewards, or to try one thing after another, usually a variety of occupations - all perfect descriptions of Christie's ingeniously named "Leonard Vole". See more »
Both Sir Wilfred and Mr. Myers introduce evidence directly to the court themselves, which is against courtroom procedure. Sir Wilfred, for example, trumps Inspector Hearne's testimony by directly revealing Leonard Vole's blood type, instead of properly calling a witness with personal or professional knowledge of it. See more »
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 »
At the end of the day the films you give top marks are those films that become constant companions. You can see them again at the drop of a hat, you show them to people who have never see them and it's always a triumph. "Witness For The Prosecution" is one of those wonders. Suspend your disbelief for a couple of hours and enjoy this banquet of a romp. Charles Laughton showed here what he was made of better, more clearly and more loudly than in any other film and all of his films, at least the moments with him in it, are unforgettable - Captain Blight or Henry VIII, Quasimodo or that malefic Senator from South Carolina. Here the severity of his lawyer by vocation takes your senses away with his masterful judicial way to see logic and it's such an incredible fun to watch him do it. Tyrone Power is a toy in his hands but not Marlene Dietrich who stands her ground, not merely as a character but as a presence on the screen. Billy Wilder visits early Hitchcock territory with wit and fun. Elsa Lanchester's nurse is the cherry on top of this delightful film.
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