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
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 »
In Sir Wilfred's "London" law firm office, on a table behind his desk, there is an American-style telephone plainly visible. See more »
You know, maybe I'll take a glass of sherry, myself. I feel like Christmas, somehow. Ha-ha.
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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 »
I love it when a movie captivates me, carries me along, then surprises me at the end. This is a masterpiece of human maneuvering. It has outstanding acting and a plot to die for. This is a fairly pedestrian Agatha Christie short story. I'm not saying it's not a wonderful story, just that it doesn't come to life like it does on the screen. Charles Laughton is the wonder barrister who is taking the case, even though he is in poor health. The murder case seems a relatively simple one until we begin to trip over the many layers left lying on the path. Marlene Dietrich does a masterful job in all her roles (I won't say anymore than that so I don't spoil the ending). Tyrone Power is able to balance his pathos and his potential guilt. The beauty of the movie is that it never takes itself too seriously. There are some modestly funny subplots and a great deal of careful investigation. I guarantee you that once you start watching, you won't be able to turn it off.
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