liberal causes that Stanley Kramer embraced in his films had become
passé, the world stood back and realized what a modestly talented
director he really was. People don't talk in Kramer films,
trade windy speeches back and forth. And Kramer's knowledge
cinematic technique apparently ended once he made sure there was film
in the camera. Keep in mind that this was the guy who
the greatest comic talent in America for IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD
WORLD and could only turn out a mediocre picture.
But once in his career the million - monkeys - with - a- million - typewriters syndrome took over, the result was JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG. The Nazi war crimes trials provided appropriate, and director-proof, material for Kramer's pontificating. The film is made all the more compelling with writer Abby Mann's decision to focus on the later trials at Nuremberg, after the big guns of the Nazi regime had been sentenced to their fates. Goering, Hess, Speer, et al, were easy targets of evil; JUDGMENT instead deals with the Nazi judges who sent innocent people to their deaths for such "crimes" as fraternizing with Jews. Should they be prosecuted to the full extent of international law, or pardoned because they were "merely following orders?" Standout acting performances are delivered by Spencer Tracy as wizened American judge Dan Haywood, the rock-solid moral center of the film; and Maximilian Schell, whose dynamic portrayal as the judges' defense lawyer earned him the Academy Award for best actor. Perhaps even more notable were Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift, who each make the most of their short but meaty roles as tragic figures on the witness stand; both were nominated for Oscars in the supporting categories. ½ - JL
IS THAT WHO I THINK IT IS?
After doing much work on television throughout the fifties, William Shatner has a small part in what would be his first big film.