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Judgment at Nuremberg
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Judgment at Nuremberg More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: ss5921 from Baltimore, Maryland
1 June 2003

I do not believe that any other movie has ever included two better speeches than those delivered by Maximillian Schell and Spencer Tracy. The writing was brilliant and I doubt that two people have ever been better in one movie.

If ever there were doubts as to who is America's greatest actor, this movie should end the debate. Spencer Tracy, now a much older Spencer Tracy, shows that even in his later years, he is the best.

Maximillian Schell could not be any better, and when you add Burt Lancaster's best performance and many other terrific ones too, the leadership of Stanley Kramer and writing of Abby Mann, this movie must be considered among the five best of all time. Period.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Superb film

Author: Justin Behnke from Fishers, IN
21 November 2001

This is a superb film that handles a sensitive subject extremely well. Much like any courtroom film, we hear both sides of these atrocities committed in Nuremberg, and a verdict is handed down. Not that the Nazis deserved to have their "side" even heard, but we do live in a democracy. The film is informative, educational, moving and thrilling. Stanley Kramer makes the most filming 2 1/2 hours in a courtroom with interesting camera angles, zoom ins and zoom outs, and other camera tricks.

But what really makes this film so great is the incredible acting. Maximillian Schell gives an astoundingly remarkable performance, one of the best performances I've ever seen, as the German defense counsel. Spencer Tracy, while more or less an onlooker for most of the film, is superb in his closing address to the court. Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift also have great memorable supporting roles.

The horridly important subject matter and Schell's incredible performance make this film a must see. Easily one of America's 100 greatest films.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant use of leitmotif

Author: bill_farrell from san carlos, ca
19 July 2000

The simplicity of the sound track is stunning in this film, perfectly mirroring the war-torn setting of the story. The traditional German tune "Lili Marlene" is repeated in various keys and rhythms to capture the feelings of sorrow, hope, despair, joy, and loss which ebb and flow throughout this masterpiece. (The effect is very similar to the use of "Waltzing Matilda" throughout Stanley Kramer's "On the Beach.")

The final rendition of this soulful Lied, at the denouement of the Tracy-Dietrich friendship, is heartbreaking.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Top acting

Author: Die beste Freundin ( from Utrecht, The Netherlands
10 July 2000

Top acting by Spencer Tracy, Maximilian Schell, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift. And what a great way of dealing with such a delicate subject. Much, much better in painting the picture of this horrifying war than f.i. ´Schindler´s List´.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Excellent historical rendition

Author: 3j
12 March 2000

Maximilian Schell deserves 11 points out of a possible 10 for his stunning performance. Absolutely brilliant. It is hard to believe he was only 30 years old at the time the film was shot. Great performances by Judy Garland, Richard Widmark, Montgomery Clift and of course Spencer Tracy.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A definitive, if ponderous, courtroom drama

Author: Philby-3 from Sydney, Australia
20 March 2009

This dour and lengthy (3 hours) courtroom drama deals with the tail end of the Nuremberg trials of 1946-48, when many of the Nazi leaders were tried for their part in the totalitarian nightmare which engulfed Germany between 1933 and 1945. By 1948 the chief villains had been dealt with and the Tribunal had moved on to the supporting players, in this case four of the judges who had worked for the Nazi state. The particular trial, based on an earlier TV film also written by Abby Mann, is fictional, but founded on fact. A very high quality cast keeps the viewer engaged. How was it that many high officials, let alone ordinary Germans, did not admit to knowing the true horror of the "final solution"? How was it possible that eminent lawyers would co-operate with the Nazi regime despite their distaste for it? How could their conduct be defended, let alone be excused?

As Hans Rolfe, the youthful defence counsel for the most prominent judge, Ernst Janning (a noble-looking but rather wooden Burt Lancaster), Maximilian Schell gives the Tribunal of three American judges plenty of histrionics. It is evident that Germany, and not just the judges is on trial. But the scriptwriter does not allow the defendants off the hook. One, played by Werner Klemperer, is unrepentant, another is befuddled. Only Ernst Janning puts up any kind of defence, to the effect that he thought he could ameliorate things by playing along with the Nazis. This did not stop him from ordering sterilization of mental defectives and the execution of an old Jewish man for allegedly having sex with a 16 year old non-Jewish girl.

The problem, of course is a very large number of Germans approved of repressive policies towards Jews. The Nazis were overtly anti-semitic from the start and it needs to be remembered that in the election in January 1933 which brought Hitler to power the Nazi party got the largest proportion of votes cast, 43%. Hitler brooked no opposition, and anyone who got in the way was disposed of summarily. Only the aristocratic army officer corps offered any real resistance, and then only late in the piece because they saw Hitler as ruining Germany. For someone like Janning exile was not an option – it was either play along or go to a concentration camp for opposing the regime. He admits his mistake, but of course it's cold comfort to the victims.

Spencer Tracey could make just about any character likable, and our sympathies are soon captured by the affable and apparently fair-minded Judge Hayward. But he proves incapable of getting to the bottom of the matter. Justice of a sort is done, and the defendants have their day (actually several months) in court, but the whole proceeding has some of the elements of a show trial. Ironically, both the prosecutor (a relentless Richard Widmark) and the Tribunal members are for political reasons pressured by people in the military who should have known better to go easy on the defendants.

Currently we have kangaroo court style US military tribunals set up by the late unlamented Bush regime to deal with people picked up in the invasion of Iraq and elsewhere. Fortunately it looks like the regular courts will wind up disposing of these cases. However, the Nuremburg Tribunal, victor's justice it may have been, can be defended on the grounds there was nothing else. In retrospect it was an imperfect exercise. This film remains a worthy attempt to give an account of it.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"Once more it is being done for love of country"

Author: ackstasis from Australia
27 July 2008

Stanley Kramer was more active as a producer rather than a director, but, when he stood for something, he would often take up the reigns himself. Kramer made no apologies for producing "message films," and, though his transparent motives have the potential to age poorly, there's no doubt that he had the stature to approach controversial issues – such as racism {'The Defiant Ones (1958)'}, religion {'Inherit the Wind (1960)'} and the Holocaust – with confidence and dignity. 'Judgement at Nuremberg (1961)' wears its pretensions on its sleeve, a film so utterly convinced of its own importance that Kramer must surely have already known about the eleven Oscar nominations before he opened production. Fortunately, much of this self-importance is quite justified. The epic 186-minute courtroom drama tackles some of the fundamental issues in the aftermath of WWII, such as the accountability of higher citizens for the Holocaust and how patriotism has the ability to corrupt human morals. With a mighty cast of Hollywood stars, Kramer impartially dissects the Nuremberg trials, exposing tragedy and hypocrisy.

Courtroom dramas have remained such audience favourites because they are a showcase for emotional outbursts and impassioned monologues. 'Judgement at Nuremberg,' in keeping with the tone of its subject matter, is largely gloomy and subdued, only occasionally reaching the thrilling highs of Sidney Lumet's '12 Angry Men (1957),' Robert Mulligan's 'To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)' or Kramer's own 'Inherit the Wind (1960).' Any speech by Maximilian Schell {who won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, despite being billed fifth} keeps you fixated on the screen, and, likewise, Burt Lancaster's confession and Montgomery Clift's interrogation are must-see moments. The remainder of the film occasionally falls in stagnation, perhaps an inevitable consequence of its format and length, though the drama remains quite watchable, even if I wouldn't fancy a re-viewing until several years from now. The performances are impressive across the board, though Judy Garland, who somehow still retains the rosy cheeks of her childhood, seems terribly out-of-place in such a grim drama.

When he isn't in court, American Chief Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) experiences the post-war German lifestyle, as its defeated citizens attempt to reconstruct their shattered lives amid the humiliation of being branded "evil" by the rest of the world. Screenwriter Abby Mann has it both ways on this issue: on the one hand, he represents the ordinary German civilians as proud and resourceful people, who could never have known the true extent of Hitler's regime. However, Judge Haywood later lambasts this perception, asserting that this argument is merely a self-made delusion, and that their inaction – and, indeed, the inaction of the whole world – was just as contemptible as the acts of those who physically committed the atrocities of the Holocaust. In stating what he believes to be the truth, Haywood invokes the ire of the American government, and severs his close friendship with Mrs. Bertholt (Marlene Dietrich), whose husband was executed for his leadership of the German Army. The truth, it seems, was not something that most people wanted to hear, but Stanley Kramer said it, and we listened.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

An all star cast team up to provide an excellent ,moving performance

Author: Prateek Dasgupta from India
18 October 2005

Judgement at Nuremberg is one of the best ,and my favorite, courtroom movies ever made.The courtroom scenes were electrifying.The all star cast have teamed up very well to put a powerful performance.Hats off for Maxmillan Schell !!He was amazing and was duly rewarded with an Academy Award.I felt Schell was at his best when he prosecutes Mr Peterson(Montgomery Clift) justifying the judgment to sterilize him.Hans Rolfe(Schell) is the leading defense attorney with great respect for Dr. Ernst Janning(Burt Lancaster) whom he considered to be his role model,defends and upholds the judgments made by the judges.These judgments were according to the laws of the land during Nazi rule and hence the judges were innocent.Burt Lancaster who spoke very little except for a patriotic harangue was at his best and i felt he deserved at least an Oscar nomination.

Spencer Tracy( Judge Dan Haywood)had a very important and tough role to play though he makes it look very simple.Marlene Dietrich(Mrs. Bertholt) and Montgomery Clift(Rudolf Peterson)pitch in with short but important and brilliant performances.Overall great acting,great dialogs,great script,great direction combine to provide the right ingredients for a prefect movie.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Truly Amazing

Author: J. Wellington Peevis from Malltown
1 September 2003

In post-war Germany, 4 Nazis who served in the Ministry of Justice are tried for crimes against humanity by an American tribunal.

Every time I go to Europe I invariably find myself in one of the many Holocaust museums scattered throughout the continent. And every time I do, my holiday mood is always instantly erased. I become filled with an overwhelming urge to smack the next local who dares look at me askance. This uncontrollable reflex certainty that all the people around me had a part in atrocities of Naziism just completely takes over. It's ridiculous, but I can't help it. If you can't get to Europe, see this film. It does an absolutely masterful job of exploring the question of universal culpability, not only by Europeans, but by people everywhere. Techincially the film is flawless, the acting must be seen, no justice can be given to it here. I want to know when Hollywood stopped making quality films like this, films that examine the question of Truth without slipping in the idiot politics of the all too often idiot filmmakers. Top Ten this is, Top Ten I say!!!!

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Preachy but effective, with many great performances

Author: Tommy-92
30 April 2000

I did not find Spencer Tracy to be self-righteous, as others did. He was just... well, Spencer Tracy as judge, and fine, I thought. The self-righteous character in this movie, for me, was Richard Widmark's prosecutor. Maybe it was because he had the easy job, (How hard was it going to be to convince everyone that these Nazi war criminals should be convicted?) but he was just too preachy for me. I really couldn't stand him. Apparently all Stanley Kramer dramas have some amount of preachiness to them, and it's there in here, all right. But there are still great performances from Tracy, Burt Lancaster as one of the defendants, Montgomery Clift and Judy Garland as two of the witnesses, and Marlene Dietrich as a German woman who tries to convince Tracy "that we're not all monsters." As for Maximillian Schell, who plays the German lawyer defending the criminals and won the film's only acting Oscar, he's pretty good, too, but doesn't particularly stand out among such a great cast. Yes, the film is overlong and has a few draggy, boring spots, but is also has several effective scenes, such as several testimonies of the witnesses and the scene showing (most of) the greusome details of the Holocaust. That really does get to you, even with Widmark narrating.

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