Based on Crooked House, a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie first published in the US by Dodd and Mead Company in March 1949, and published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 23 May of the same year.
Set in 1920s London, a brutal and bloodthirsty murder has stained the plush carpets of a handsome London townhouse. The victim is the glamorous and rich Emily French. All the evidence points to Leonard Vole, a young chancer to whom the heiress left her vast fortune and who ruthlessly took her life. At least, this is the story that Emily's dedicated housekeeper Janet McIntyre stands by in court. Leonard however, is adamant that his partner, the enigmatic chorus girl Romaine, can prove his innocence. Tasked with representing Leonard is his solicitor John Mayhew and King's Counsel, Sir Charles Carter KC.
This is the first production of "Witness for the Prosecution" that based on Agatha Christie's original short (23 pages) story first published in the January 31, 1925 edition of Flynn's Weekly under the title 'Traitor Hands'. She republished it in 1933 under the present title as part of a collection called 'The Hound of Death and other stories'. Christie expanded the story for her 1953 play, changing some of the character names and introducing Sir Wilfrid Robarts as the defense counsel. It is the play, not the short story, that has been the basis for all subsequent television and film versions. See more »
In the close-up of the Evening Standard newspaper that Romaine reads, Janet the maid's surname is quite clearly printed as 'Mackenzie.' Though this is the surname Agatha Christie used in the original story, in the adaptation Janet is called 'McIntyre' both in the credits and by other characters. See more »
This version of Agatha Christie's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION shakes off what can often be goofy about Christie's stories and treats the characters as fully-formed individuals in an historic setting. It's an impressive effort with a shocking cast who inhabit their characters.
This is awards season in the U.S. and studios trot out their best efforts in a last minute bid to garner accolades. Were this a feature film, it would surpass many mega-budget films.
Director Julian Jarrold -- THE CROWN (2016), BECOMING JANE (2007) and KINKY BOOTS (2005) -- utilizes the strong talent assembled and tells an intriguing story of characters and conflict.
Billy Howle as the accused is convincing, constantly eye-catching, fully immersed and impressive. I've seen him in several other projects, including the miniseries GLUE, and he bares great vulnerability on screen, and it's believable.
Toby Jones is reliable at being superior and nuanced, he is a huge asset to this series.
Andrea Riseborough is enigmatic and surprising. I am accustomed to seeing her in contemporary dramas, and she delivers this character like placid waters with a shark circling beneath, ready to emerge and strike.
This version is so satisfying and memorable, I'm almost dreading the big screen, and likely big budget, version coming from Ben Affleck in 2018. His Oscar-bait 2016 film LIVE BY NIGHT shows a love for period pulp, but an inability to stitch it together. This version of WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION should be the standard against which his is judged.
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