IMDb > Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Witness for the Prosecution
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Witness for the Prosecution (1957) More at IMDbPro »

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8.4/10   73,756 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Up 1% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Agatha Christie (in Agatha Christie's international stage success)
Billy Wilder (screen play) ...
View company contact information for Witness for the Prosecution on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
6 February 1958 (USA) See more »
The most electrifying entertainment of our time! See more »
A veteran British barrister must defend his client in a murder trial that has surprise after surprise. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
If you've seen the movie, be sure to read Christie's story. If you've read the story, still see this movie. See more (217 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

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
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Patrick Aherne ... Court Officer (uncredited)
Walter Bacon ... Bar Patron (uncredited)
Eddie Baker ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Brandon Beach ... Juror (uncredited)
Danny Borzage ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
George Bruggeman ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
George Calliga ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)

Steve Carruthers ... Barrister (uncredited)
Neil Collins ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)

Marjorie Eaton ... Miss O'Brien (uncredited)

Bill Erwin ... Juror (uncredited)

Franklyn Farnum ... Barrister (uncredited)

Bess Flowers ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Herschel Graham ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)

Stuart Hall ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Art Howard ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)

Michael Jeffers ... Cafe Patron (uncredited)

Colin Kenny ... Jury Foreman (uncredited)

Paul Kruger ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Jeanne Lafayette ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Wilbur Mack ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Thomas Martin ... Bailiff (uncredited)

Frank McLure ... Court Officer (uncredited)

Ottola Nesmith ... Miss Johnson (uncredited)

William H. O'Brien ... Barrister (uncredited)

J. Pat O'Malley ... Shorts Salesman (uncredited)
George Pelling ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Paul Power ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)

Jack Raine ... Doctor (uncredited)

Fred Rapport ... Juror (uncredited)
Waclaw Rekwart ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)

Leoda Richards ... Cafe Patron (uncredited)
Molly Roden ... Miss McHugh (uncredited)

John Roy ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)

Jeffrey Sayre ... Clerk at Old Bailey (uncredited)
Norbert Schiller ... Spotlight Operator in German Cafe (uncredited)

Scott Seaton ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Lucile Sewall ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Cap Somers ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)

Bert Stevens ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Arthur Tovey ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Glen Walters ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)

Ben Wright ... Barrister Reading Charges (uncredited)

Directed by
Billy Wilder 
Writing credits
Agatha Christie (in Agatha Christie's international stage success)

Billy Wilder (screen play) and
Harry Kurnitz (screen play)

Lawrence B. Marcus (adaptation) (as Larry Marcus)

Produced by
Arthur Hornblow Jr. .... producer
Edward Small .... executive producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Matty Malneck (musical score)
Cinematography by
Russell Harlan (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Daniel Mandell (film editor)
Art Direction by
Alexandre Trauner 
Set Decoration by
Howard Bristol 
Makeup Department
Nellie Manley .... hairdresser
Gustaf Norin .... makeup
Helene Parrish .... hairdresser
Harry Ray .... makeup
Ray Sebastian .... makeup
Charles Gemora .... makeup artist: Marlene Dietrich (uncredited)
Wally Westmore .... makeup artist: Marlene Dietrich (uncredited)
Production Management
Ben Hersh .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Emmett Emerson .... assistant director
Frank Losee .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Stanley Detlie .... property master
Sound Department
Fred Lau .... sound
Special Effects by
Lee Zavitz .... special effects (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Madison S. Lacy .... stills photographer (uncredited)
Casting Department
William Maybery .... casting (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Edith Head .... costumes: Miss Dietrich
Joe King .... costumer (as Joseph King)
Adele Parmenter .... costumes (uncredited)
Music Department
Ernest Gold .... conductor
Leonid Raab .... music arranger
Other crew
John Franco .... script supervisor
Doane Harrison .... production associate
Edward Small .... presenter
Basil Bleck .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Jack Cooper .... publicity director (uncredited)
Noël Coward .... dialogue director (uncredited)
Bert Steiner .... dialogue director (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
116 min | Australia:111 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Did You Know?

Una O'Connor was the only member of the original Broadway cast of the play to reprise her role on film.See more »
Revealing mistakes: When the photographer takes the pictures of Leonard Vole in the prison, he takes one from the front view and one from Voles right side. Later in the courtroom the prosecutor Mr. Myers shows these pictures to Leonard Vole in the witness stand. Now there is one from the front sight and one from his left side. It is hard to believe, that a professional photographer in a murder case would make such a serious mistake to twist the negative mirror inverted. It more looks like a mistake of the prop master.See more »
Sir Wilfrid:I'd better take that thermos of cocoa with me. It helps me wash down down the pills.
Miss Plimsoll:Let me see. My learned patient is not above substituting brandy for cocoa.
[opens thermos and smells]
Miss Plimsoll:Sniff, sniff. It is cocoa. So sorry.
Sir Wilfrid:If you were a woman, Miss Plimsoll, I would strike you.
See more »
Movie Connections:
I May Never Go Home AnymoreSee more »


What was Sir Wilfrid trying to do with his monocle?
Is "Witness for the Prosecution" based on a book?
When and where does the story take place?
See more »
65 out of 78 people found the following review useful.
If you've seen the movie, be sure to read Christie's story. If you've read the story, still see this movie., 21 November 2004
Author: Anansi00 from Half Moon Bay, California

Witness for the Prosecution is, as IMDb voters cann attest, a great movie. A clever, character-driven courtroom drama, it deserved the Academy Award nominations that it received in 1958, and it has justly endured to the present day. Starring the terrific talents of Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, and particularly Marlene Dietrich, directed by Billy Wilder, and based on the superb short story by Agatha Christie, it is a combination has all of the very best ingredients, and delivers a nearly outstanding film.

The movie centers around Laughton's character, an aged, feisty, and very canny English barrister (lawyer) who is in poor health and headed toward retirement. The opening of the movie is entirely Laughton's show, as he portrays a curmudgeonly and endearing character. On his first day home from the hospital, he soon takes up the defense of Leonard Vole (Power) a man who is charged with murder and up against a barrage of circumstantial evidence. Power is convincing as the honest and somewhat naive defendant, in increasingly over his head. Soon, Dietrich makes her entrance as Vole's cool German femme fatal of a wife. After a few flashbacks to set up the story of the murder case, Laughton takes up Vole's case. What ensues is a well-written and well-directed courtroom drama, in which Laughton continues to shine, delivering a convincing performance peppered with humor. Soon, the story takes a series of dramatic twists, during which Power plays his part as the beleaguered defendant to the hilt and Dietrich uses the gifts that made her a legend. By the end, the audience has been treated to an excellent drama with sensational acting.

The result is a classic, but not an icon in the sense that Christie's short story, penned twenty years earlier, would become. While it may be the best-regarded of all Christie adaptations (Murder on the Orient Express a possible exception), the movie does not seem to have the stature it ought to have. At the end of the movie, I did not feel the same as when I read the story, and not just because I knew all along how it would turn out. With such visible talent on all fronts, I took a long look at what it was, and what was missing. The answer: Christie.

The movie is good in its own right, but from the beginning misses the crucial aspect that the original story has: the mystery. Agatha Christie is the master of suspense, and throughout the story, that suspense, that anxiousness to know what will happen next, the eagerness to know where this next twist will lead, and the shock that comes at the very end, were what the story was all about. The direction the movie went, the legal thriller, substituted drama for mystery, and while the movie only added to the story, changing very little of what Christie wrote, the movie lost the grip that only she could create. Christie treated the courtroom proceedings (the centerpiece of the movie) with brevity, focusing on the intrigue surrounding the case. Also, the Hollywood ending overdoes it a little bit, and deprives the most important plot twist of some of its its emotional impact.

That said, however, the movie is still a classic. Fortunately, the heart of the story was still very strong, with a unique plot and rich characters, which were taken advantage of by Wilder and the cast, respectively. And, as it turns out, the movie is a good complement to the story. To those who have only seen the movie, the story should be read to truly appreciate the missing value of the mystery. To those who have read the story, the movie nails the characters (particularly Dietrich's Mrs. Vole). All in all, I give this movie a 9 out of 10, and would gladly see it again.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (217 total) »

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