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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing short of a triumph!
Sir Wilfrid Robarts (played by Charles Laughton) is renown as one of the greatest barristers in England, but his failing health has placed him at the mercy of doctors, and in the clutches of an overbearing nurse (Elsa Lancaster). However, when he is introduced to Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), an innocent man on his way to the gallows, Sir Wilfrid decides to risk his health...
Published on 22 Feb 2005 by Kurt A. Johnson

versus
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film .. deserves better treatment on DVD
This has been one of my favourite films for a long time. I was hoping that this new 2013 DVD release would finally do it justice. But I'm afraid that it contains the same old 14:9 version (or 4:3 picture with black borders top and bottom) that has been around for decades.

Save your money and catch it next time it's on Channel 4. Their last transmission was a...
Published 19 months ago by probably57


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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing short of a triumph!, 22 Feb 2005
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, IL USA) - See all my reviews
Sir Wilfrid Robarts (played by Charles Laughton) is renown as one of the greatest barristers in England, but his failing health has placed him at the mercy of doctors, and in the clutches of an overbearing nurse (Elsa Lancaster). However, when he is introduced to Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), an innocent man on his way to the gallows, Sir Wilfrid decides to risk his health and use his jurisprudential skills to save Vole. A wrinkle in the case is Vole's surprisingly harsh wife (Marlene Dietrich), but fortunately a wife can never be used as a witness for the prosecution. [Black-and-white, released in 1957, with a running time of 1:56.]
This movie is based on Agatha Christie's 1933 book with the same title, and is nothing short of a triumph! The three main actors of the movie (Laughton, Power and Dietrich) put on a wonderful performance, making this movie gripping from start to finish. Plus, as a fan of John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey books, I must say that I liked the setting. (I do believe that any Rumpole fan will also adore this movie.)
So, if you are interested in courtroom drama, classic movies and great acting, and want a movie that is all three, then you must get this DVD!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining drama, 7 May 2012
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), an American living in London, is accused of killing an older woman who befriended him. His defense barrister (Charles Laughton) is convinced of the man's innocence but puzzled over the peculiar behavior of Mrs. Vole (Marlene Dietrich).

This movie's trailer touts the 'shocking' ending and, I have to say, I did find it so surprising that I immediately rewatched it (and enjoyed it) again. Power is slick, handsome, and though he appears too old to be called 'young man' by his lawyer, he's very good. Laughton is the real star of the show and gives an outstanding performance full of wit and passion. He was rightly nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. His scenes with Elsa Lanchester are very funny. Dietrich is mysterious until the very end, the epitome of an icy, cool, and calculating female. This is a very British story, with most of the action set in a courtroom. The dialogue is spirited and the pace is quick.

I had expected the movie to be dated and a bit dull, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars twists and turns - excellent suspense with gratifying ending, 3 Dec 2000
By A Customer
i envy any agatha christie fan who has not yet had the opportunity to see this brilliant film. the first time is amazing. whoever needs another excuse to watch it will simply adore Marlene Dietrich. just don't tell anyone the ending!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder, anyone?, 6 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Based on an Agatha Christie play, it's on to a winner straight away. Tyrone Power, Charles Laughton and the divine Marlene Dietrich are the lead players in this skillfully crafted, classy affair. Not the best film ever made, but wonderful entertainment nonetheless. Worth t for Marlene Dietrich alone!
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's not the jury's judgment that worries me. It's mine.", 20 Jun 2004
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
"No more murder cases," is the doctor's strict prohibition upon reluctantly releasing renowned barrister and recent heart attack survivor Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) from hospital. (Although even the word "released" seems to be a matter of slight dispute here, because in the words of Sir Wilfrid's nurse Miss Plimsoll [Elsa Lanchester], he was "expelled for conduct unbecoming a cardiac patient." But let's leave that aside for now.) Following the doctor's orders, Sir Wilfrid's staff have lined up an array of civil cases: a divorce, a tax appeal, and a marine insurance claim - surely those will satisfy their hard-to-please employer's demands?

Err ... not likely.
So, try as he might to be a good patient, Sir Wilfrid needs only little encouragement to accept the case of handsome drifter and small-time inventor Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), accused of murdering his rich benefactress Emily French (Norma Varden). Of course, the very circumstances that most disturb the famous barrister's colleagues Mayhew and Brogan-Moore (Henry Daniell and John Williams) - Mrs. French's infatuation with Vole, his visit to her on the night of the murder, the lack of an alternative suspect and his inheritance under her new will - just make the matter more interesting in Sir Wilfrid's eyes. Most problematic, however, is Vole's alibi, which depends entirely on the testimony of his German wife Christine (Marlene Dietrich), an actress he had met when stationed with the RAF in WWII-ravaged Hamburg. Troubling, insofar, isn't only that Christine is her husband's sole alibi witness and that - Sir Wilfrid explains - a devoted wife's testimony doesn't carry much weight anyway. The real problem is that Christine isn't the loving, desperate wife one might expect to begin with: far from that, she is cool, calculating and surprisingly self-controlled; so much so that, worried because he cannot figure out her game, Sir Wilfrid decides not let her testify at all, rather than risk damaging his case. That, however, seems to have been one of his illustrious career's few major miscalculations - because now he and his client suddenly have to face Christine as a witness for the prosecution. And her testimony on the stand is only one of several surprises she has in store.
"Witness for the Prosecution" is based on a concept Agatha Christie first realized as a four-person short story (published in the 1933 collection "The Hound of Death") and subsequently adapted into what she herself would later call her best play, which opened in London in 1953 and in 1954 on Broadway, where it won the N.Y. Drama Critics' Circle citation as Best Foreign Play. Throughout the adaptations the storyline was fleshed out more and more, the focus shifted from the work of solicitor Mayherne (whose name changed to Mayhew) to that of QC Sir Wilfrid Robarts, and the screenplay ingeniously added Miss Plimsoll's character, utilizing the proven on-screen chemistry of real-life spouses Laughton and Lanchester, for whom this was an astonishing eleventh collaboration, and whose banter bristles with director/co-screenwriter Billy Wilder's dry wit and the fireworks of the couple's pricelessly deadpan delivery, timing and genuine joy in performing together.
Perhaps most importantly, the story's ending changed: not entirely, but enough to give it a different and, albeit very dramatic, less cynical slant than the short story's original conclusion. - To those of us who have grown up with Christie's works, those of her idol Conan Doyle and on a steady diet of Perry Mason, Rumpole of the Bailey and many subsequent other fictional attorneys, the plot twists of "Witness for the Prosecution" (including its ending) may not come as a major surprise. At the moment of the movie's release, however, the ending was a much-guarded secret; viewers were encouraged not to reveal it both in the movie's trailer and at the beginning of the film itself; and even the Royal Family was sworn to silence before a private showing. Similarly, features such as the skillful, methodical unveiling of a seemingly upstanding, disinterested witness's hidden bias in cross-examination have long become standard fare in both real and fictional courtrooms, and any mystery fan worth their salt has heard more than one celluloid attorney yell at a cornered witness: "Were you lying then or are you lying now?" (Not recommended in real-life trial practice, incidentally.) Yet, in these and other respects it was "Witness for the Prosecution" which laid the groundwork for many a courtroom drama to come; and herein lies much of its ongoing importance.
Moreover, this is simply an outstandingly-acted film; not only by Laughton, Lanchester and a perfectly-cast Marlene Dietrich but by every single actor, also including Torin Thatcher (prosecutor Mr. Myers), Francis Compton (the presiding Judge) and, most noteably, Una O'Connor (Mrs. French's disgruntled housekeeper). This is true even if Tyrone Power's emotional outbursts in court may be bewildering to today's viewers - and why, I wonder, was an American-born star acceptable for an Englishman's part without even having to bother trying to put on an English accent anyway, whereas Dietrich and other non-native English speakers of the period, like Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman, were routinely cast as foreigners? (Yes, yes, I know. Redford and "Out of Africa" come to mind more recently, too, but that's a can of worms I won't open here.)
"Witness for the Prosecution" won a Golden Globe for Elsa Lanchester, but unfortunately none of its six Academy Award nominations (which undeservedly didn't even include Marlene Dietrich), taking second seat to the year's big winner "Bridge on the River Kwai" in the Best Picture, Best Director (David Lean), Best Actor (Alec Guinness) and Best Editing categories, and to "Sayonara" for Best Supporting Acress (Miyoshi Umeki) and Best Sound. No matter: with the noirish note resulting from its use of multiple levels of ambiguity - in noticeable contrast to Christie's Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries - it fits seamlessly next to such Billy Wilder masterpieces as "Sunset Boulevard" and "Double Indemnity;" and it has long become true courtroom classic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Where is my cocoa?”, 5 Feb 2006
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton), Barrister is returning to work prematurely from hospital for a heart condition. He is accompanied by fussy Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester) Nurse.
Sir Wilfred promised not to take on any strenuous case. However in exchange for a chance to pilfer a forbidden cigar he soon gets intriguingly involved in a murder case. You can tell that Leonard Stephen Vole is being actively accused of murder based on circumstantial evidence. Sr. Wilfred after giving charismatic Leonard the eye-glass test is sure that he is innocent and knows if he does not take an active part in the trial that Leonard is doomed. To make matters worse Leonard’s wife Christine Helm Vole (Marlene Dietrich), his only alibi, is some sort of cool character and looks suspicious her self.
Will Sir Wilfred take on the case? And if so will he die trying?
What is Christine’s secret?
How will it turn out in the end?
This film is well played and will keep you on the edge of your seat. You will be like the jury going vacillating over his innocence and the outcome of the trial. Do not let Leonard’s story distract you from the bantering and budding affair between Sir Wilfred and Nurse Plimsoll.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Blu-Ray review, 5 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is about the ITEM, not the film. If you are looking to buy this then you should already know what a terrific film this is!

Let's get this niggle out of the way right now: It's Region A-locked. I have personally tested the disc on both A and B region players and it does *not* work with Region B Blu-Ray machines.

The Disc is very thin in terms of extras, which are (all in standard definition):
*Billy Wilder speaks (in German - but with English subtitles) on Witness For The Prosecution [6:30]
*Trailer [3:07]

Main feature:
Chapter breaks: 8
Audio: English DTS-HD Master
Subtitles: None
Picture: black & white
Ratio: 1.66:1 widescreen
Running time: 116:06

The disc title itself runs 116 mins 31 seconds:
-this includes 17 seconds for the Kino Lorber and MGM logos on the introduction, plus another 8 seconds after the film finishes and the MGM logo is re-added. None of these logos are original, all have been superficially added by the distributor. That means the ACTUAL running time of the feature is exactly 116 minutes 06 seconds.

PICTURE AND SOUND QUALITY is very good/excellent. The picture quality is very clean, a high quality transfer to HD, beautiful sharp black & white picture, which for a film released in 1957 is a brilliant achievement.

It loses one star in my rating for being region restricted and a bare minimum of extra features, but don't let that detract from the fact this is a masterpiece of a movie - highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Star powered Court Drama, 16 Aug 2008
By 
Simon Bugler (Cardiff,UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'm not usually one for courtroom dramas-but this 1957 movie is different. What makes it so different are the stars involved- Charles Laughton is superb as the London barrister defending Tyrone Power of murdering a wealthy widow-Marlene Dietrich is Power's treacherous wife -Elsa Lanchester is Laughton's nagging nurse- Una O'Connor is also superb as the murdered woman's maid- Laughton & real wife Lanchester were nominated for oscars for this movie. After the verdict is announced there is a superb twist in the final 5 minutes of the movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm constantly surprised that womens hats don't provoke more murders., 9 May 2013
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Witness for the Prosecution [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
Leonard Steven Vole finds himself on trial for the murder of a wealthy widow from whom he has inherited a fortune. Top barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts takes up the defendants case, but he, along with everyone else, is stunned when Vole's seemingly loving wife Christine turns up to testify against the defendant.

Based on Agatha Christie's successful 1953 play, Witness For The Prosecution benefited from fine tuning from master director Billy Wilder and writing partner Harry Kurnitz. Here the dialogue becomes razor sharp and the characters are fully realised with quite wonderful results, but chiefly the masterstroke here is not letting a court room drama become just that, a court room drama. The film plays out with no wasted scenes, no moments of boredom, and it has such vim and vigour you sometimes forget that there actually is drama in the story.

The cast here are wonderful, Wilder had wanted to work with Charles Laughton for some time, and it's obvious that both parties here are getting the best out of each other. Laughton is a pure delight as Robarts, a sharp tongue, all bluster and cheeky into the bargain, his interplay with Miss Plimsoll (Laughton's real life wife Elsa Lanchester) is quality, and it's another testament to Wilder's genius for putting them together. Tyrone Power, in what would be his last completed film before sadly passing away, is devilishly smart as Vole, whilst Torin Thatcher is great as the gruff prosecution barrister Myers. Yet as good as they all are, they all sit in the shadow of Marlene Dietrich and her turn as Christine Vole, wonderfully sultry and femme fatalistic, it's a sizzling performance that crowns this delightful film.

It occurred to me overnight that it's probably the closest film that Wilder got to being Hitchcockian, and I'm pretty sure the big master of suspense himself would have enjoyed this one. It's a mystery that is dramatic, it's a thriller that is also funny, it's pretty much a multi genre classic. 9/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best Agatha Christie, 5 Aug 2011
By 
Ronald P. Hayes "ron" (england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This dvd is first class,after removal of the Korean sub titles, the quality of sound and picture (black and white )is first rate. The film itself is A1. Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, and Marlene Dietrich are all superb. The trial is enacted so well and the twist is
great. This is a must for all fans of Agatha Christie
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Witness for the Prosecution [DVD] [1957]
Witness for the Prosecution [DVD] [1957] by Billy Wilder (DVD - 2013)
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