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4.7 out of 5 stars76
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 9 February 2008
Young German lawyer, Maximillian Schell, has the daunting task of defending four nazi judges accused of war crimes, at the Nuremberg trials. Richard Widmark is the rather 'zealous' prosecution council, who never gives up. Spencer Tracey is the senior trial judge, fair minded and who just 'wants to understand'. This was certainly the first such film, that made any attempt to give both sides a fair hearing.

The defence council finds that the evidence against his clients is just the start of his problems, when one of the accussed, Burt Lancaster, decides to declare himself and his colleagues guilty. However, the trial continues with several spectacular and electric courtroom confrontations between Widmark and Schell.

Things become more complicated when events and people outside of the courtroom start to put pressure on the key players in the courtroom. Worse still, Spencer Tracey finds out that his romantic interest, Marlene Dietrich, not only is certain that Burt Lancaster is not guilty, but had her husband executed at another trial, thanks mainly to Richard Widmark.

Montgommery Clift and Judy Garland are two victims of nazi rule, that are asked to give evidence, but will they both attend? This really is marvellous stuff, brialliantly produced and directed, with the four individual verdicts being uncertain till almost at the end of the film.

Maximillian Schell won an oscur for his barn storming performance, with Spencer Tracey, Burt Lancaster and Marlene Dietrich all being a little unlucky in not joining him. Watch out for a young William Shatner (star trek) and a brief cameo from Burgess Meredith (rocky and batman).

Five star entertainment for those into courtroom drama.
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on 9 June 2004
This is a dark film about a dark subject, but don't be put off. It is also a stunning film that will grip you from beginning to end. The cast-list reads like a who's who of celluloid star quality: Spencer Tracey, Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland and others. All directed by the wonderful Stanley Kramer. Tracey plays a US judge at the Nuremberg Trials, who must sit in judgment over a group of Nazis accused of war crimes. With the new reality of the Cold War, there is pressure on the court to show leniency in order to win over the German people in the new struggle between East and West. It is a deeply troubling film that poses the question - did ordinary Germans know what was really happening, and if they did, where does culpability lie? Maximilian Schell plays a young German lawyer who argues that men cannot be found guilty for merely being loyal to their government; Lancaster plays one of the accused who argues for his own condemnation: 'I made my life excrement, because I walked with them'. All of the performances are excellent and some are among the most powerful you will ever see on celluloid. This is a great film for a rainy day in November.
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on 23 January 2011
This is an exceptionally well played and well written film featuring an outstanding cast. The film is based on an original tele-play by Abby Mann, who went on to win an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, and is a thoughtful meditation on the nature of personal responsibility and political expediency. With a running time of approximately three hours, this is not light or easy afternoon viewing, but it is, nonetheless, an exceptionally gripping courtroom drama based loosely on real trials that took place in Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War. The film does not shirk the moral issues involved in complicity in the murderous acts of others, nor the complex issues of personal accountability in cases where those on trial may have perceived themselves to have been agents of the law rather than the perpetrators of criminal acts themselves. The superb cast is is headed by Spencer Tracy as the presiding judge and the always excellent Burt Lancaster as one of the defendants. Richard Widmark plays the prosecuting attorney, while the counsel for the defence is played by German actor Maximilian Schell, who won the film's second Oscar, winning the award for Best Actor ahead of the higher billed Tracy. Strong support is also given by Marlene Dietrich as the widow of a former Nazi Officer and a young William Shatner, while there are also exceptional cameo perfomances from Montgomery Clift and Judy Garland. This is thoughtful and intelligent drama and should be watched by anybody with an interest in the social and historical themes dealt with in this film.
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on 30 November 2010
MAY BE SPOILERS: Three Judges stand in judgement over four Judges. That's basically what this film is about? The 3 American Judges led by Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy)with the American Prosecutor Col.Lawson (Richard Widmark)have to listen to the evidence against these German Judges who were members for one reason or the other of the NAZI Party, some say they had no choice,including Judge Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) who is by far the cleverest educationally and the most astute and who is READY and PREPARED to ADMIT and face-up to his responsibilities and GUILT and at the other extreme Judge Ernst Hahn (Werner Klemperer)who uses "The Nuremberg Defence" of 'I was only doing what I was told to do, what I was made to do'? They were responsible for making legal Nazi sterilisation plans and experiments on civilians and orders for the confiscation of vast tracts of land and properties and to imprison people who protested into the Slave, Concentration or Death Camps!
Maximilian Schell plays the Defence Counsel Hans Rolfe and does his best to disuade Janning from pleading Guilty.Schell won a Best Actor Oscar for his part.Judge Haywood asks his servants at the house where he is staying, the Halbestadts,if NO-ONE KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING with regard to the Death Camps? and they immediately denied any knowledge themselves of them or what was happening even though Haywood said "but Dachau is less than 10km from here?" Marlene Dietrich plays the wife of a German General hung by the Americans and she is the owner of the house he is staying in.She was 61 when she made the film but I think she looks at least 10-15 years younger.An excellent film with a very good story to tell.
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VINE VOICEon 6 September 2010
There were other trials other than all the NSPD biggies. This is a play about the trial of the German judges. The trial was extremely intriguing and there is not a wasted thought or word.

This film is an excellent and well cast. Surprisingly there is William Shatner as Captain Harrison Byers from WestPoint before he beamed the flamboyant Captain Kirk we know of today. Burt Lancaster as Dr. Ernst Janning Made the best speech. I kept waiting for him to show his teeth. Spencer Tracy as Chief Judge Dan Haywood was excellent in showing the conundrum off the time. Way too many actors to cover them all; so surprise yourself and watch the film before looking at the cast list.

The Nuremburg trials held in the American zone ended July 14 1949. There were ninety-nine defendants sentenced to prison terms. Not one is still serving his sentence.

The DVD I watched had many extras:
In conversation
_____Abby Mann - Writer (story and screenplay), Maximilian Schell
_____Turns out that Max played the role in Playhouse 90 (1959).

The value of a Single human being.
A Tribute to Stanly Kramer
Theatrical Trailer

Bad Day at Black Rock~ Spencer Tracy

The Hallelujah Trail ~ Burt Lancaster
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on 25 July 2014
This excellent film,based on fact, is one of the better and more thoughtful stories,to come out of World War Two. It is a courtroom drama,set in Nuremberg in1948, which examines not only the guilt of four Nazi judges,who prostituted their legal oaths in order to remain judges in Hitlers Germany,but it also deals uncompromisingly with the hypocrisy and double standards adopted by the Allies as political imperatives changed, the Russians became the "new enemy",and Germany was once again a"friend!"
Brilliantly acted,and in my view,one of Spencer Tracy's best performances in an illustrious career,this film tears the sticking plaster off a wound that still makes many people uncomfortable,even today.This production deserves a place in the readers collections.
Service and delivery of this high quality dvd from Nagiry,were,as usual,first class,altogether,a good experience.
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on 23 February 2012
The courtroom scenes are of necessity claustrophobic, but good use is also made of film footage showing the aftermath of the war in Germany. The actors do a good job of "being" the characters and putting their Hollywood stardom on one side. Obviously there is dramatic licence, but this is skillfully used. Some of the "domestic" scenes with Spencer Tracy and his two "servants" are very telling.

We see the dilemmas faced by people who had been normal decent people but were perverted by evil ideas: the weakness of human nature. Then we also see that the "modern-day" characters face similar pressures: expediency triumphing over justice in some cases.

I would recommend this film.
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on 24 January 2001
The difficult subject of sorting out culpability of the Nazi regime is handled very well by Stanley Kramer and his actors. The film is never on the side of any one party, the Nazis are shown to be often harried reluctantly to commit unspeakable acts and the Allies are seen to be sometimes persecuting a whole nation for truth. The cast are impeccable, Oscar winning Maximillian Schell projects noble indignaty to what Germany has now to face, and Spencer Tracy his usual excellent self, showing the sane face of American justice. Special notice must also go to Montgomery Clift and Judy Garland, both nearly at the end of their careers, and both giving performances of incredible intensity. The only fault of this film is the excessive running time, it often seems ponderous, but ultimately it evokes the pondering that Tracy and his judges had to do. Recommended.
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on 27 November 2015
Three hours of intense courtroom drama. This is a film that could have been worthy but dull. Instead it was a fascinating study of the aftermath of the Second World War with steadily rising tension - even if one could guess at the eventual outcome. This was a film about people, principles and process rather than a verdict. There were some intriguing subplots, such as the subtle relationship between Spencer Tracy (as Judge) and Marlene Dietrich as the embittered widow of a German war hero. The acting was extraordinary by any standard and it would be invidious to pick out the best performance. Burt Lancaster, Spencer Tracy, Maximilian Schell, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland were all simply outstanding. The script was intelligent and avoided all the usual clichees. I felt I was in the courtroom with the accused and everyone else. And I kept asking myself, how would I have stood up under all the pressures of living in Nazi Germany. Was it that easy to rebel against an authoritarian state? The shots of Nuremberg after the allied bombing raids - stark, skeletal, burnt out - were bleak but set the tone and gave the viewer some sympathy for the plight of the average German caught up in the horrors of war. In the end, we were left with the question 'Was it four judges on trial - or the whole of Germany?' and that was something we all had to answer for ourselves. This is a great classic movie. It's in black and white - and probably all the better for that bearing in mind the film was set in the late 1940s. Worthy of all the superlatives that have been applied to it.
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on 25 February 2012
This absoulutly stunning

With POWERHOUSE perfomances from Tracy, Lancaster, Schell, Widmark, Garland and Clift....

I must say that Burt Lancaster was the star of the show - so quiet and proud - but so guilty - that last line that Tracy says to Lancaster and Burt's face!!! OHHH sent shivers down my spine....

Cracking film and I cannot believe that I have only just caught up with it.... Found doing a ransom search of Mongomery Clift (one of my fav actors)...
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