A fine drama - Charles Laughton + Marlene Dietrich are excellent
- Witness for the Prosecution review by RP
They don't make them this any more! Black-and-white courtroom drama set in 1952 with Charles Laughton (barrister), Marlene Dietrich (glamorous wife of the accused) and Tyrone Power (accused of murder). Whodunnit? There's a voiceover the end credits asking the audience not to tell, so I won't :)
Based on an Agatha Christie play from her own short story it's a fairly straightforward tale. But what sets it apart is the acting, particularly from Laughton and Dietrich. The role played by Tyrone power is fine - he comes across as a 'hammy' actor, but that is just right for the role.
I enjoyed it very much and there are some good comic touches too. There are however some bits that grate on me... It's a Hollywood drama (director Billy Wilder) so perhaps it's unsurprising there are courtroom errors, but the characterisation of Tyrone Power (an American) serving in the RAF but somehow managing to give his new German wife a British passport seemed all a bit odd. And as we all know, there are no 'Perry Mason moments' of last minute evidence in British courts...
That apart, it's a fine drama and fully deserves its IMDB score of 8.4. I'll give it 4/5 stars - highly recommended.
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Superb adaptation of an Agatha Christie short story with the great Charles Laughton
- Witness for the Prosecution review by PV
This is a superb film - a courtroom thriller - starring some real legends: the great British actor Charles Laughton who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Henry VIII in the 1930s, and even Marlene Dietrich too!
The lead Tyrone Power is a bit odd - with an American accent yet he served in the RAF in WWII which is never explained, but the demands of box office audiences meant producers then (and now) pandered to what they (and esp the female audience) wanted and Tyrone Power was a heart-throb of his day.
The plot is pure Agatha Christie - based on a short story original called 'Traitor Hands' - it has typical twists, mistaken identity, and the last minute reveal JUST like a magician's trick. This is Christie's hallmark. It makes for unrealistic drama (NO British court would allow last-minute reveals like this) but riveting drama.
Apparently, Ben Affleck is in talks to a direct a new movie version with Matt Damon - one wonders how much these over-rated Hollywood types with mess it up (and the great big lie that was 'Argo').
But anyway, a fine drama. The BBC made a drama with Toby Jones broadcast on 26 and 27th December 2016 which totally changed the ending and added unnecessary female characters (which writers are ordered to do now to placate the diversity departments and attract the easy meat female viewers). No need for all that though as this is the better version, and the one to watch.
4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
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