WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

(1957)
With Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power, Elsa Lanchester, John Williams, Henry Daniell
Directed by Billy Wilder
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

     Based on Agatha Christie's play, WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION may not be one of the most plausible courtroom dramas ever, but for its outlandish melodrama, multiple twists and outstanding cast, it is one of the greatest.   With Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power and Elsa Lanchester all throwing themselves into their parts with complete abandon, there is some wonder, as one astute Internet Movie Database member wrote, how there was any scenery left to chew by the end of the film.  Billy Wilder knew he had a good piece of material and directed it in his usual way, by hiring himself the best cast he could get and staying out of the way. Although the film's main twist may be a little hard to swallow (I cannot reveal why without revealing the twist),  WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION is so filled with rich dialogue and spiffy performances, your enjoyment should not dependent on any particular plot point. If the melodrama and bizarre turns of event are not your cup of cocoa or brandy, just enjoy the beautiful comic chemistry between real life husband and wife Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester.  One sad note: this was Tyrone Power's final film.  He died of a heart attack before completing what was to be his next film, SOLOMON AND SHEBA. 4 - JB

Billy Wilder     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


ADD ANOTHER QUOTE AND AND MAKE IT A GALLON

"You talk too much. If I'd known how much you talk I'd never have come out of my coma."


BUT WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO IS DIRECT SOMEBODY ELSE'S FILM

Billy Wilder once said that he did not like to make the same kind of film over and over, the way Alfred Hitchcock did with thrillers. Wilder considered Witness for the Prosecution to be his "Hitchcock" film, but once he did it, he had no desire to do another one.  Conversely, Alfred Hitchcock stated that movie fans often told him how much they enjoyed his film... Witness for the Prosecution.

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