Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) Poster


Spencer Tracy's 11-minute closing speech was filmed in one take.
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.
Maximilian Schell's Oscar for Best Actor makes him the lowest-billed lead category winner in history. He is billed fifth, after Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark and Marlene Dietrich.
Montgomery Clift had a habit of cutting his hair very short when he was between films and would not work until it had grown back. In fact, his scene in this film was shot right after getting one of those haircuts. He also had so much trouble remembering his lines, the scene had to be re-shot many times. Director Stanley Kramer finally gave up and told Clift to ad lib his lines, saying that this would help to convey the confusion in his character's mind while he was being questioned on the witness stand. "Monty seemed to calm down after this," Kramer later recalled. "He wasn't always close to the script, but whatever he said fitted in perfectly, and he came through with as good a performance as I had hoped."
By the time this film was finished, all of the men who had been convicted and imprisoned in the real Nuremberg trials had been released.
Burt Lancaster does not utter a single word in the courtroom until his outburst roughly two hours and 15 minutes into the film. However, prior to that he does speak briefly in three scenes set in the prison.
With the passing of Maximilian Schell in February 2014, William Shatner is the last living member of the cast.
Immediately upon hearing his sentence, Emil Hahn (Werner Klemperer) declares, "Today you sentence me; tomorrow the Bolsheviks will sentence you!". Whether intended or not, those words strongly parallel the last words of the notorious Julius Streicher as he was about to be hanged following his conviction at the first Nuremberg Trial. As the black hood was placed over his head, Streicher screamed, "The Bolsheviks will hang you one day!"
Some of the court scenes feature authentic film material about the crimes committed in concentration camps.
Many of the actors involved in the film did so for a fraction of their usual salary because they felt the subject matter was so important.
The song whose meaning Mrs. Berthold explains to Judge Haywood when they walk past a pub while people in there sing it, is called "Lili Marlene". The song was popular with German and British forces during the war, and was actually recorded by Marlene Dietrich herself in the 1940s and 1950s.
Marlene Dietrich had a great deal of trouble performing in the scene between Mrs. Bertholt and Judge Haywood when she claims German civilians did not know of the atrocities the Nazi government committed during the war. Dietrich, who during the war had worked for the Allies against the Nazis, found the sentiment so repulsive that she could not keep her concentration. Only after counseling by Spencer Tracy was she able to complete the scene. According to an interview with her grandson Peter Riva on the "Icons Radio Hour", Dietrich would get physically ill (to the point of vomiting) in the evenings over this part. In a conversation with her daughter Maria Riva, Maria told her to "simply play her mother". The fictional Mrs. Bertholt is a representation of the mother of Marlene Dietrich.
The film had its world premiere in Berlin sponsored by the city's mayor, Willy Brandt.
Selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in December 2013.
Werner Klemperer, who played defendant Emile "nasty Nazi to the very end" Hahn, is probably known best as Col. Klink in the TV series Hogan's Heroes (1965). Klemperer, a Polish Jew, and his family fled Poland at the outset of the Nazi regime. He wound up in Hollywood and agreed only to play the role of a Nazi in a movie or TV series if the character was despicable, as in this movie, or a bumbling loser, as in "Hogan's Heroes".
Judy Garland's first film since A Star Is Born (1954), seven years before.
Filmed in Nuremberg itself.
A TV production was previously telecast live on April 16, 1959 - Playhouse 90: Judgment at Nuremberg (1959). In this film, Maximilian Schell and Werner Klemperer repeat their roles from that TV production.
It is mentioned that Mrs. Bertholt's husband, a German army general, was executed for his role in "the Malmedy incident". In 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, German SS forces captured a unit of American soldiers near Malmedy, Belgium. Instead of sending them to a POW camp, the prisoners were trucked to an open field, where they were unloaded, herded into the middle of the field and then machine-gunned, killing 84 of them. After the war several German officers involved in the incident were convicted of war crimes and imprisoned, although none were executed.
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For the premiere, producer Stanley Kramer flew hundreds of journalists from America to Germany. The German critics were understandably less impressed with the film than their American counterparts.
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Laurence Olivier was originally cast as Ernst Janning.
A stage adaptation, also written by Abby Mann, was produced on Broadway many years later. It starred Maximilian Schell in a different role, this time as Ernst Janning, the role played by Burt Lancaster in the film. The play opened at the Longacre Theatre in New York on March 26, 2001 and ran for 56 performances.
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This was the film that the infamous British "Moors Murderers" Ian Brady and Myra Hindley saw on their first date.
[June 2008] Ranked #10 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Courtroom Drama".
Abby Mann, who wrote the screenplay, died just one day after Richard Widmark, one of the movie's stars. (25 March 2008).
Director Stanley Kramer originally wanted Julie Harris for the role played by Judy Garland.
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