It has been three years since the most important Nazi leaders had already been tried. This trial is about 4 judges who used their offices to conduct Nazi sterilization and cleansing policies. Retired American judge, Dan Haywood has a daunting task ahead of him. The Cold War is heating up and no one wants any more trials as Germany, and Allied governments, want to forget the past. But is that the right thing to do is the question that the tribunal must decide. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Marlon Brando wanted to play the role of Hans Rolfe, the German lawyer who defends the German judges. Brando, in a rare attempt to garner the part, actually approached Stanley Kramer about it. Although Kramer and screenwriter Abby Mann were very intrigued with the idea of having an actor of Brando's talent and stature in the role, both were so impressed with Maximilian Schell's portrayal of the same part in the original TV broadcast of "Judgment at Nuremberg"--Playhouse 90: Judgment at Nuremberg (1959)--that they had decided to stick with the relatively unknown Schell, who later won the Oscar for Best Actor for that role. See more »
When the defense lawyer Hans Rolfe (Maximilian Schell) is questioning a witness, he first asks if they had sworn to "The Civil Servant Loyalty Oath of 1934". However, then the prosecutor's assistant is asked to read the oath from "The Reich's Law Gazette, March 1933". See more »
They say that time heals all heartache. In the case of the Third Reich, I'm not sure that the old saying is true. Out of respect for the Holocaust victims, and as an important history lesson, there's something to be said for not forgetting the evils of Hitler. Fortunately, we have this great film to help us not forget.
"Judgment At Nuremberg" is a dramatization of one of the many real life post WWII Nuremberg trials of high ranking Nazis. Most of the film focuses on the 1948 courtroom trial of four judges who helped to carry out Hitler's decrees. As part of the prosecution's case against the judges, real life, graphic film footage showing the horrors of the death camps engenders a gut level impression that is both powerful and persuasive. The film thus educates viewers in ways that a dry textbook of facts and figures never could.
But there's more to the film than the trial. In other parts of Nuremberg we see ordinary Germans trying to get on with their lives as best they can, three years after the war's end, in a bombed out and bleak city. One of these persons is Madame Bertholt (Marlene Dietrich), the wife of a dead German soldier. In contrast to the harsh and contentious trial, Madame Bertholt's kindness toward the tribunal's lead judge, Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy), provides an example of the innocence and decency of ordinary Germans, and thus adds a softer, more contemplative perspective to the ordeal. In these non-courtroom scenes, the melancholy background music and the soft production lighting create a mood of depression and sadness.
I find very little to criticize in this three hour film. Perhaps the plot could have been clearer in identifying the legal counsel of three of the four defendants. And maybe in those scenes wherein the four defendants conversed among themselves, the dialogue should have been in German, not English. But these are trivial points. Overall, this is a film that is well written and directed, a film with credible actors giving stellar performances, and most of all, a film that assures preservation of that era's historic significance, with a political and social message that has enduring value.
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