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Witness For The Prosecution (1957, Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich)



Witness For The Prosecution was adapted from Agatha Christie’s hit play, Billy Wilder’s film proved equally successful, garnering Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Charles Laughton), Best Supporting Actress (Elsa Lanchester), Best Director (Billy Wilder), Best Editing (Daniel Mandell) and Best Sound (Gordon Sawyer).

The film is full of the usual Christie twists and turns. Laughton is a top-flight barrister, Sir Wilfrid Robarts, recuperating from a heart attack under the pestering ministrations of nurse Miss Plimsoll (Lanchester). He has been ordered not to undertake any more criminal defence work in case he becomes overexcited, but can’t resist when solicitor Mayhew (Henry Daniell) introduces him to his latest client, Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power). Vole has been accused of murdering a wealthy widow who doted on him. The motive for the murder appears to have been the fortune she then left to him.

Vole’s alibi, provided for him by his wife Christine (Marlene Dietrich), falls down when it is revealed their marriage is not fully legal and she can be used as a witness for the prosecution. Robarts, convinced of Vole’s innocence, sets out to prove it. Using information on Christine’s past (when she was a cabaret singer in wartime Germany), he sets out to disprove any testimony she can give against Vole. It is only when Robarts is flushed with success that he fully grapples with the question: if Vole didn’t kill the widow, who else could?

production details
Country: USA | 101 minutes
Release Year: 1957

Director: Billy Wilder
Writers: Harry Kurnitz, Larry Marcus, Billy Wilder, based on the play by Agatha Christie

Charles Laughton as Sir Wilfrid Robarts
Tyrone Power as Leonard Vole
Marlene Dietrich as Christine Vole
Henry Daniell as Mayhew
Elsa Lanchester as Miss Plimsoll
Ian Wolfe as Carter
John Williams as Brogan-Moore
Torin Thatcher as Mr. Myers
Una O’Connor as Janet McKenzie
Francis Compton as Judge
Philip Tonge as Inspector Hearne
Ruta Lee as Diana
Bess Flowers as Courtroom spectator
Leoda Richards as Hat Store Sales Clerk
Waclaw Rekwart as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Arthur Tovey as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Bert Stevens as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Scott Seaton as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Brandon Beach as Juror (uncredited)
Steve Carruthers as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Herschel Graham as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Franklyn Farnum as Barrister (uncredited)
Jack Raine as Doctor (uncredited)
Norma Varden as Emily Jane French
John Roy as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
William H. O’Brien as Barrister (uncredited)
Patrick Aherne as Court Officer (uncredited)
Wilbur Mack as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Eddie Baker as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Colin Kenny as Juror (uncredited)
Fred Rapport as Juror (uncredited)
Danny Borzage as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
George Bruggeman as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Stuart Hall as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Art Howard as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Paul Kruger as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Jeanne Lafayette as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Cap Somers as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Glen Walters as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Marjorie Eaton as Miss O’Brien (uncredited)
Michael Jeffers as Cafe Patron (uncredited)
Ottola Nesmith as Miss Johnson (uncredited)
J. Pat O’Malley as Shorts Salesman (uncredited)
George Pelling as Bit Part (uncredited)
Jeffrey Sayre as Clerk at Old Bailey (uncredited)
Norbert Schiller as Spotlight Operator in German Cafe (uncredited)
Ben Wright as Barrister Reading Charges (uncredited)
Frank McLure as Court Officer (uncredited)
Walter Bacon as Bar Patron (uncredited)

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