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Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 6 February 1958 (USA)
Trailer
3:09 | Trailer
A veteran British barrister must defend his client in a murder trial that has surprise after surprise.

Director:

Billy Wilder

Writers:

Agatha Christie (in Agatha Christie's international stage success), Billy Wilder (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
3,772 ( 462)
Top Rated Movies #66 | Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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
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Storyline

Ailing barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts is thrust back into the courtroom in what becomes one of the most unusual and eventful murder case of the lawyer's career when he finds himself defending Leonard Vole, a man being tried for the murder of a wealthy woman. With Robarts choosing to represent him, the two find themselves up against Leonard's cold-hearted wife, Christine - who, in a surprising turn of events, chooses to appear in court against her husband. Written by Kyle Perez

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's climaxed by the 10 breath-stopping minutes you ever lived! Don't reveal the ending-please! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although originally published as a short story in 1925 with the title "Traitor's Hands" by Agatha Christie, she renamed it "Witness for the Prosecution" when it was reprinted in the 1930's and 1940's in British and American publications. Her play is based on this short story. See more »

Goofs

In the first courtroom scene, the clerk twice states that the murder of Emily Jane French occurred in "the county of London". The County of London was known to both Sherlock Holmes and Horace Rumpole. It was run by the London County Council from 1889-1965, was comprised of over two dozen boroughs (Hampstead to Greenwich to Chelsea), and much to Leonard Vole's chagrin, was home to the Central Criminal Courts, the Old Bailey. In 1965, the County of London became the larger, Greater London, which it still is. Administered by the Greater London Council from 1965-86, it has been run since 2000 by the Greater London Authority, headed by a directly-elected mayor and assembly. For reasons of tradition and vested interest, the old City of London, now a square mile of banks, brokerage houses and the Tower, remains a separate entity. See more »

Quotes

Christine Vole: [shortly after Christine is attacked by soldiers] You better get out of here. You've been trouble enough.
Leonard Vole: Actually, it's your own fault. That costume in the picture outside gave the boys ideas, and then those trousers of yours let them down hard.
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Crazy Credits

As the end credits appear on screen, an announcer's voice is heard: "The management of this theater suggests that for the greater entertainment of your friends who have not yet seen the picture you will not divulge to anyone the secret of the ending of Witness for the Prosecution." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Archer: Archer: 1999 -- Robert De Niro (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

I May Never Go Home Anymore
Music by Ralph Arthur Roberts
Lyrics by Jack Brooks
Sung by Marlene Dietrich (uncredited)
Reprised a cappella by Tyrone Power (uncredited)
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User Reviews

 
The Goal Is Always Justice
6 March 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In a recent biography of Billy Wilder, Agatha Christie is quoted as saying that this was the best adaption of her work ever done on the screen. I can't praise Witness for the Prosecution any higher than that.

Tyrone Power in his farewell film plays Leonard Vole who befriends a dotty old widow played by Norma Varden. She even rewrites her will leaving him the bulk of a very large estate. When she's murdered, Scotland Yard arrests Power.

Power's solicitor Henry Daniell retains a dream team for defense of John Williams and the recently recovered Charles Laughton. Laughton is recovering from a heart attack and against medical advice plunges into the case. Laughton also has to deal with the efforts of his assigned nurse Elsa Lanchester to keep him following doctor's advice.

The original play this was taken from concentrated completely on the Power character and the machinations of his wife. Wilder built up the character of the nurse and barrister Sir Wilfred Robards so that they almost equaled the screen time of Mr. and Mrs. Vole. So much so that Charles Laughton was nominated for an Academy Award in 1957, but lost to Alec Guinness.

Marlene Dietrich plays Mrs. Vole. She's a war bride over from Germany and she's got her own agenda going. Her performance and what her character does is the key to the whole film. Dietrich probably would have gotten an Oscar nomination herself, but due to the fact that if her performance was hyped up for Academy consideration, the element of surprise would have been lost in the film. Wilder in fact apologized to Marlene for that.

The Anglo-Saxon legal system's goal is justice. Justice is served though not quite in the way it usually is in Witness for the Prosecution.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

6 February 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Witness for the Prosecution See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,693
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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