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Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 6 February 1958 (USA)
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
3,963 ( 15)

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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:

Unmatched ...in a half century of motion picture suspense! 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

Elsa Lanchester used to delight in broadcasting Marlene Dietrich's secrets. Although Dietrich was never secretive about her famous "tape lifts," Lanchester detailed their use to anyone who would listen (One of the most avid listeners was Charles Laughton, who urged a make-up man to steal one so he could try it). The lifts were stuck to the side of Dietrich's head where she wanted skin to be lifted. Then the long threads hanging from them were woven into hair at the back of her head, forcing the tabs to pull the skin very tight. A wig then covered the network of tabs and threads. Lanchester joked that Dietrich wouldn't dare to pull or twist her face for fear of loosening a lift. In the film, one can see how Dietrich rarely breaks the cold passiveness of her expression and moves her whole body rather than her head. See more »

Goofs

Both Sir Wilfred and Mr. Myers introduce evidence directly to the court themselves, which is against courtroom procedure. Sir Wilfred, for example, trumps Inspector Hearne's testimony by directly revealing Leonard Vole's blood type, instead of properly calling a witness with personal or professional knowledge of it. See more »

Quotes

Miss Plimsoll: I almost married a lawyer once. I was in attendance when he had his appendectomy, and we became engaged as soon as he could sit up... and then peritonitis set in and he went just like that!
Sir Wilfrid: He certainly was a lucky lawyer.
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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Rockford Files: Hotel of Fear (1977) 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)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
EntertainingTrial Movie That Still Holds Up
8 November 2005 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

This is one of the best "trial movies" ever made. It's an outstanding film that is just as good today as it was almost 50 years ago when it was released in the theaters. The shocking ending caused quite a stir back then, too.

The only part of the movie I thought looked dated and unrealistic was Tyrone Power's character being able to interrupt the trial with outbursts and not be reprimanded for it. There is no way that would be tolerated, at least today.

Otherwise, it's a pretty solid film with a good cast that includes two fascinating characters played by actors who know how to entertain: Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich.

Laughton, who plays Power's defense attorney, grabs the spotlight in the story but Dietrich almost steals the movie in her role as Power's wife. Laughton's dialog is terrific throughout, bringing a number of laughs to this serious film. He's just a joy to watch. Dietrich is even more riveting but just doesn't have anywhere near the same amount of screen time as Laughton.

Not to be overlooked is Elsa Lanchester, playing Laughton's nurse. She, too, demonstrates her comedic talent and significantly adds to the fun of watching this film.

If you like some fine drama, storyline twists, a little humor thrown in and great acting and dialog, this is a classic film to check out.


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