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Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

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 »
Reviews
Popularity
3,508 ( 209)

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Top Rated Movies #64 | Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 9 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

It's Britain, 1953. Upon his return to work following a heart attack, irrepressible barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts, known as a barrister for the hopeless, takes on a murder case, much to the exasperation of his medical team, led by his overly regulated private nurse, Miss Plimsoll, who tries her hardest to ensure that he not return to his hard living ways - including excessive cigar smoking and drinking - while he takes his medication and gets his much needed rest. That case is defending American war veteran Leonard Vole, a poor, out of work, struggling inventor who is accused of murdering his fifty-six year old lonely and wealthy widowed acquaintance, Emily French. The initial evidence is circumstantial but points to Leonard as the murderer. Despite being happily married to East German former beer hall performer Christine Vole, he fostered that friendship with Mrs. French in the hopes that she would finance one of his many inventions to the tune of a few hundred pounds. It thus does ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most electrifying entertainment of our time! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

6 February 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Testigo de cargo See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$8,175,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$16,350,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Edward Small Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William Holden was the first choice for Leonard, but he was unavailable. Billy Wilder and the producer Arthur Hornblow Jr. then went to Tyrone Power, who turned down the part. Other actors considered for the role included Gene Kelly, Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Jack Lemmon, and even Roger Moore. Eventually, Tyrone Power accepted the role when he was offered both Witness for the Prosecution (1957) and Solomon and Sheba (1959) for $300,000 each. Before he could complete Solomon however, Power had a fatal heart attack and was replaced by Yul Brynner. Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth were also considered for the role of Christine Helm. See more »

Goofs

Though made in 1957, the film takes place in 1952, but in the opening shots of Sir Wilfrid's car on the streets of London (and in the rear-projection shots in the car's interior), several post-1952 cars can be seen in the background. See more »

Quotes

Miss Plimsoll: It's beddy-bye. We better go upstairs now, get undressed and lie down.
Sir Wilfrid: We? What a nauseating prospect.
See more »

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 »


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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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Superb and unjustly maligned film
31 July 2004 | by jasonhurdSee all my reviews

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

I'm not sure I have the ability to adequately praise this film. The original short story(rather unremarkable, actually)has been expanded into a magnificent example of Hollywood entertainment at its best. In addition to perhaps the finest line-up of character actors ever assembled(next to Cukor's David Copperfield, that is), we get Laughton and Dietrich at the top of their form. The person who criticised Lanchester's performance as "annoying" missed the point entirely. Miss Plimsoll is meant to be annoying! Also, what's with all the bad-mouthing of Tyrone Power? "Hammy"; "terrible"; "worst performance ever". These are the perceptive IMDb reviews? Only one of you got it right: it's hammy because Leonard Vole is the one acting, not Power! For 95% of the film, the character is dissembling, only showing his true colors at the end. Of course it looks hammy: Vole isn't a born actor like his wife. And to all those know-it-alls who called this film mediocre and predictable, I look forward to your upcoming film projects which I'm sure will be paragons of excellence and worthy to be set alongside classics of the golden age.


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