Witness for the Prosecution – They Don’t Make Movies Like This No More

(For SI Blog reader Guruprasad)

Some movies are indeed for the ages.

Neither the passage of time nor the march of technology (like color, surround-sound, 3D et al) or new forms of entertainment can diminish their lustrous appeal.

Like for instance, the 1957 Hollywood murder/court-room drama Witness for the Prosecution, our fifth Billy Wilder movie (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Love in the Afternoon and Sabrina are the other Billy Wilder films we’ve seen).

More than five decades after the film debuted, Witness for the Prosecution is an enduring testament to director Billy Wilder’s prodigious talent and mastery of the craft.

Since many of you ADDled schmucks have difficulty in reading anything beyond five paragraphs, let’s say it in stentorian tones – Witness for the Prosecution, a black and white film shot mostly indoor, is a gorgeous movie and an absolute delight to watch.

Based on a play by the British crime novelist Agatha Christie and a screenplay by Billy Wilder and Harry Kurnitz, Witness for the Prosecution showcases not merely fine acting (foremost of all by the remarkable and endearing Charles Laughton) but a gripping story laced with humor, strong writing and knotted in neat twists that keep you glued to the screen.

When a struggling London egg-beater salesman Leonard Vole (Tyrone Powers) is charged with the murder of a rich, elderly widow Emily Jane French, the responsibility of saving Vole from the gallows falls on the crafty old fox Sir.Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton), an ailing barrister just out of the hospital and with a domineering, babbling nurse in tow.

When all circumstantial evidence points to your client’s guilt, what way out is there? Particularly, when the wife (Marlene Dietrich) herself turns out to be the ….no, we won’t tell you that bit.

Sure, the court-room action is a bit over the top but the movie is no less entertaining for that.

Marlene Dietrich is alright but let’s face it the German gal was well past her prime menopause when the movie was made.

By the way, there are plenty of fine lines in the movie. Here are a few of them:

Blood is thicker than evidence

One can get very tired of gratitude

Like a drowning man clutching a razor-blade

Champion of the hopeless cause

We kinda partially guessed the ending having watched some of Billy Wilder’s previous movies and also the fact that the murder still remains unresolved. No, we’re not revealing the ending to y’all.

SearchIndia.com strongly recommends Witness for the Prosecution.

Witness for the Prosecution is available on DVD at Netflix.

6 Responses to "Witness for the Prosecution – They Don’t Make Movies Like This No More"

  1. rakeshbaba   June 16, 2010 at 6:57 am

    can you give the review of the movie “the merchant of venice”?

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Which version?

    There are several – 1972, 1973 (TV), 1980, 2001 and 2004.

    • rakeshbaba   June 16, 2010 at 8:28 am

      2004 starring al pacino

      SearchIndia.com Responds:


  2. sganeshkumar1989   June 16, 2010 at 10:14 am

    //our fourth Billy Wilder movie (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard and Sabrina are the other Billy Wilder films we’ve seen).//
    Again you forgot ‘Love in the Afternoon’! 😛

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Fixed. Thanks.

    Ah, how could we forget our inamorata Audrey Hepburn.

    Screw Double Indemnity; Watch Billy Wilder’s Love in the Afternoon

    • sganeshkumar1989   June 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm

      And did you like Sunset Boulevard?

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      Yes…depressing though.

      Will probably rewatch in a few weeks.

  3. Rajarajan   June 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I’m great fan of your blog.but i feel you missed some of the contemporary hollywood movies…
    here is my list which i felt you should’ve reviewed..

    1)Green Zone
    2)Shutter Island
    4)The Machinist
    6)The Prestige

    i also await your review for christopher nolans ‘Inception’ which is getting released this july….

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Hey, we’ve watched Prestige, Snatch and RocknRolla.

    The Prestige Review – Good but Not Great and Watching Snatch; Must Watch Movie.

    We never got around to reviewing RocknRolla.

  4. sganeshkumar1989   December 26, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Saw this film at-last.Great stuff.Never expected the twist in the end.Hats off to both Agatha Christie and Billy Wilder.

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