Witness for the Prosecution (1957) - Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Hohum Score



A veteran British barrister must defend his client in a murder trial that has surprise after surprise.

IMDB: 8.4
Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich
Length: 116 Minutes
PG Rating: N/A
Reviews: 10 out of 236 found boring (4.23%)

One-line Reviews (179)

It was clever and entertaining, made particularly humorous by Laughton's posturing and the complicity of his butler's (Ian Wolfe) involvement in all of Sir Wilfrid's destructive personal habits.

The plot is intriguing with a top notch ending and the actors and actresses makes believe we are really in a court room.

"She won't even find the ASHES," he cackles innocently, like a child getting away with mischief, flicking his cigar ash into an empty drawer.

Billy Wilder directed his cast to perfection and this is a hugely enjoyable film.

This is an engrossing and tightly wound tale of greed, murder, deception, bigamy, adultery, and all the other good things in life.

Daniel Mandell's excellent editing (also an Academy award nominee) pieces the whole tantalising picture together with aplomb, and ensures an absolutely fascinating feature is ours to enjoy for movie generations to come.

It's incredibly suspenseful and interesting-and also quite impossible to talk about without giving spoilers.

Entertaining suspense movie packs thrills , intrigue , twists and turns ; being realized in Hitchcock style .

Definitely not one of Billy Wilder's best, but still worth watching for mr. Laughton's performance alone.

But ultimately, I just found this film boring and slow.

Suspenseful and amusing Christie .

In fact, with the clever twist at the end, I was almost ready to say I liked it; the three good points, Laughton, Lanchester, and the twist made the film a somewhat pleasant waste of time.

And since there's no action to speak of, the compelling result amounts a real triumph of both actors and writers combined.

Sure, he made a few great films, but looking at this courtroom drama, one of his more popular films, how can anyone deny how hackneyed, predictable, and often just how plain stupid it is?

The film is strictly for the purpose of logically plodding through a very baffling murder case, and is devoid completely of emotion, because the film is not at all driven by its characters.

Still, most are worth watching, and this particular one is excellent.

Serio-Comic Play by acclaimed Writer Agatha Christie that was hugely Successful, made into a Movie by the ever enjoyable Billy Wilder.

Having a rather eclectic taste in films, this one ranks as one of the most enjoyable.

But the film is passionating and exciting, there's no time to get bored.

Apart from being a GREAT courtroom drama(which some people don't think this movie is), this movie is so much FUN and ENTERTAINING to watch.

Even when you know where it's going, it's still fascinating to watch it go there.

The film is deliriously entertaining throughout, with some truly great lines of dialogue (most of which is very quotable) and every twist adds a new level to the story.

It's stunning!

This movie is worth watching.

It has unexpected twists however after the final twist I felt somehow empty.

Lanchester may have little to do with the story but her character is enjoyable and she brought spark to her scenes with Laughton and helped broaden out the film.

It starts slowly with a calm slow pace, setting up the plot very similarly as the Sherlock Holmes cases, and at the same time Sir Wilfrid becomes irreversibly involved with the case I was unaware of how much I myself became involved in the plot.

The only hiccup of the film, for me at least, is the ending, which seems too rash to culminate in the climax, Wilder is not rational enough to throw the curtain call in such a rush, nevertheless it is riveting still.

My only complaint being that the ending felt a little too theatrical and contrived than it should have been.

Just watched this film for the third time and it still made for a very entertaining viewing.

I like Hitchcock's story that members of the public later believed that he and not Billy Wilder had directed this grand, suspenseful courtroom drama based on Agatha Christie's successful stage play.

Great script; very good acting; and a suspenseful and intelligent story line with a few twists and turns before its over.

Through all that plot, Dietrich winds up being the most fascinating character.

With absolutely fantastic character development, incredibly smart and unpredictable screenplay, simply wonderful humor and greatly executed trial sequences, Witness for the Prosecution is an amazing film from start to finish with a plethora of phenomenal characters wonderfully realized, fascinating finale with a superb twist and a bunch of powerhouse performances, of which Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich are the best in one of their finest roles.

Laughton and Dietrich give brilliant performances that get the most out of their already fascinating characters.

He met Christine when she was earning money entertaining in a dive for soldiers.

Witty and engaging mystery .

I assure you, though, everyone I know who has viewed it has thoroughly enjoyed it.

This agreeable and often intriguing picture from master of comedy has a memorable scene after another .

This Oscar-nominated courtroom drama represents Wilder at his most theatrical and old-fashioned, but the saga is enjoyable and so is the acting of the cast.

With twists and turns to lead even Sherlock Holmes to wonder what happened, she has you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll.

Billy Wilder and his writers expand on this but more importantly make a riveting and fast paced court room drama.

There are many fascinating characters that bring the Agatha Christie play to life.

While I wouldn't call the movie slow moving it never at any point really catches fire.

The movie is a beautifully scripted courtroom drama with comic, dramatic and suspenseful elements based on the play by Agatha Cristie.

In case anyone's interested, Laughton and Henry Daniell worked together previously in 1944 in a taut, suspenseful film noir called The Suspect (please see the write-up on IMDb elsewhere).

" Charles Loughton's barrister, irascible but committed to justice, is one of the most compelling heroes in film history.

He's a barrister, and a legendary one; he gets a case and it could very well be his last (probably before this became a cliché, the "final" go-around for a character who's been around the block), involving a man seemingly wrongfully accused of killing an old lady who he became friendly with right before she was offed.

As the tale is ordinary Hitchcock fare that plays and preys the senses including sensational acting , enjoyable dialog and interesting screenplay from start to finish .

But even once you do, this movie remains fascinating.

After the verdict, Mrs. Vole is alone with Sir Wilfrid in the otherwise empty courtroom.

Better yet, Agatha Christie manages, in the story's final moments, to cram in a quick succession of unexpected plot-turns, with the ending leaving us stunned and dazed, feeling as foolish and devastated as Sir Wilfrid must have been when he realised that he had just unknowingly rescued a certain murderer from punishment.

It's definitely worth a peek if one likes murder mysteries, but it's not in the same league as Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder, which is a far more engaging movie.

This is not a great film,m but it always an intelligently written, swift-paced and entertaining piece of Hitchcock-style film-making.

How marvelous that what amounts to a bit of Agatha Christie's usual fare becomes such an entertaining and at times right down riveting piece of film-making.

If you've never seen this film, I highly recommend it.

A wonderful, exciting, fun courtroom drama--one of the best ever made.

Una O'Connor as the Scottish maid is extremely engaging as well, snapping back indignantly at the judge.

He is absolutely stunning in his performance.

Summarizing, this Agatha Cristie courtroom drama gives us profound acting performances and delivers us a story with tremendously suspenseful cinematography and one of the best twist endings I've seen.

Power is quite engaging, and Marlene Dietrich is highly striking as the German woman whom he took as a "wife".

From the get go, the performances are captivating as they are intriguing.

Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) is a wily, aging London barrister convalescing from a recent heart attack, under the care of the overbearing nurse Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester) and under his doctor's orders not to indulge in brandy, cigars or criminal courtroom cases, but that all changes when he's presented with an intriguing murder case, that of Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), an American war hero charged with murdering a 56-year-old widow for her wealth.

It is an interesting courtroom drama with solid performances all round; compelling in it's style and makeup, and well directed.

But the film is very entertaining, it features great performance by Charles Laughton and fun to watch performances by Marlene Dietrich ("Damn You!

On the bottom line, however, that's a small price to pay for a very enjoyable movie.

The movie holds you on the edge of your seat all along as unpredictable acts take place.

Charles Laughton is first class as defending counsel Sir Wilfrid Robarts in this riveting courtroom drama directed by Billy Wilder and adapted from the Agatha Christie play.

Charles Laughton's Sir Wilfrid Robarts is an outrageously entertaining creation.

And finally we have some breathtaking performances from its entire cast amongst whom Charles Laughton turns out to be this show's limelight & his work here is absolutely spellbinding.

The first surprising twist in the story occurs when Christine ends up playing the title role and kick-starts a series of revelations that lead to its somewhat unexpected conclusion.

The last half hour is one unexpected turn of events after the next, and everyone should be able to watch the movie once without knowing what is going to happen next.

Perhaps a little dated in style but breathtaking in its mix of drama, comedy and thriller.

Witness for the Prosecution has Billy Wilder's dark, intelligent and witty paw prints all over the snappy dialogue, unique characters and the intriguing plot.

"Witness for the Prosecution" is wildly entertaining and engaging, from start to finish.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.

The movie has a number of wild and unexpected surprises in it that culminates with the mother of all surprise endings as well as double-crosses that just about blows everyone, most of all the just recovered heart-attack victim Sir Wilfrid, away.

As Christine, she uses her wintry persona to perfect effect, creating a character that is as intriguing as she is dislikeable.

Smartly scripted too, it's quite astonishing that the film takes you through a wide range of emotions yet remains cleverly funny & wildly entertaining all the time.

Most of these courtroom dramas follow a fairly predictable pattern.

The author of the movie, Agatha Christie, created a logically exciting plots with a surprising ending.

This detrimental testimony seems to be curtains for Vole until all the theatrical tricks are played out and the rousing climax lets us see what really happened.

Apart from the intriguing storyline, the highlight of the movie must be Charles Laughton and his wonderfully witty wife, Elsa Lancaster.

" The play's the thing in this movie, yet the director, Billy Wilder, brings his own snappy interpretation to it.

Long after the viewer can recall the plot, the formalities of British justice illuminated by brilliant characterizations keep this film fresh and absorbing, an absolute gem of American cinema, convincingly posing as British.

It was unexpected, made perfect sense, and made the actions of the characters far more reasonable than anything I could think of.

William Wilder's movie brought Marlen Dietrich's charisma to the big screen, but also managed to keep the tension of a murder trial all the way through the entire movie, climaxing in a really unexpected climax at the very end.

He makes the trial process an enthralling, entertaining experience that seems to never have a dull moment.

Very entertaining drama .

Anyway, the film is exciting and enjoyable all the way, although they scream too much at court, also this is not very realistic, and the most enjoyable acting is between Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton.

And the evidence to use against Dietrich does appear - from an unexpected source.

I can only repeat what I wrote above years ago, briefly: the last half hour are as good, as exciting, as enthralling as any movie ever made.

Wonderful cast, wonderful performances, and a completely engrossing and surprising plot.

The courtroom scenes, which take up most of the movie, are incredibly compelling viewing.

An extremely entertaining and riveting film and completely provoking , as it ranked #6 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Courtroom Drama" .

Hubristic, Humorous, and Compelling Courtroom Caper .

The story itself is fine, sometimes more than fine, intriguing.

It's not a super-deep tale, but one of a crowd-pleaser, meant as an entertaining whodunit; ironically people got this mixed up with Hitchcock's Paradine Case, which isn't as intense or funny as this film, and only has Laughton (there as a judge) to liven it up.

This viewer has reached a verdict: this movie is tremendously entertaining.

Except for the flashback sequence to wartime Germany, where he is his most relaxed and natural as an actor, his "performance" veers from boring to almost painfully incompetent.

It is immensely engaging, smart, funny, charming, riveting, incredibly well acted and wonderfully directed by one of the best directors of all time that is of course Billy Wilde.

The fact that she didn't change her voice, only her accent, when her character was supposedly under cover may well make the ending very predictable even for beginners to spot.

What a pleasure to watch a film where everything -- writing, direction, acting, music, photography, you name it -- is exactly right and blends into a terrifically entertaining whole.

Even though i predicted the wife's double play.. further twists were unexpected.

But overall, this is a finely made, superbly acted, and very gripping mystery.

I had expected the movie to be dated and a bit dull, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

My 9 rating is due primarily to Laughton's wonderful performance, but the whole film is immensely enjoyable and has been so completely reviewed here that I would only like to express some long-standing feelings/questions about it at this point: 1.

But I loved this movie as a delightfully ENTERTAINING, MYSTERIOUS, DRAMA !

Nevertheless, it is a genuinely thrilling and engaging mystery with an ensemble of terrific characters.

The first time watching this, I made it about 70 minutes before I stopped watching because, and maybe it was because my expectations were heightened, I was bored.

And to all those know-it-alls who called this film mediocre and predictable, I look forward to your upcoming film projects which I'm sure will be paragons of excellence and worthy to be set alongside classics of the golden age.

The courtroom scenes are very atmospheric and it is here where the film is strongest as it is convincing and enjoyable.

Very Fine Pace; One of Wilder's Best Works; Intriguing and Different .

Very entertaining with amusing asides and many a wondrous twist to a seemingly simple tale.

The last 15 minutes or so of the film present many unexpected surprises which I will leave for you to enjoy.

Marlene Dietrich plays her role perfectly with many unexpected twists.

Otherwise, it's a pretty solid film with a good cast that includes two fascinating characters played by actors who know how to entertain: Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich.

(Read it, it's fascinating.

Witness for the Prosecution is yet another highlight in the great director's history, and it proves that courtroom dramas can be both riveting and a great opportunity for some first rate comedy.

A compelling film from start to finish.

But, the whole film does not have too much qualities, in fact, it's boring, only talk with a surprise at the end.

What unexpected twist ending great movie You need to watch this masterpiece before you die

As sickly but sly barrister Wilfrid Robarts and his chipper but no-nonsense nurse, Miss Plimsoll, real-life husband and wife Laughton and Lanchester shine in the most engaging performances of their careers.

His doctor and nurse try to dissuade him from taking anymore clients, but when he receives an intriguing case, he can't resist.

Considering how ironic and cynical our society has become, it's stunning that brilliant old pros like Wilder and Laughton aren't more popular today.

This viewer shouldn't relay too much about the plot, but, as adapted from Agatha Christies' play, it's riveting stuff.

But that's where things take an unexpected turn.

In his final film before his untimely death, Power is OK if somewhat bland as the accused murderer.

Charles Laughton completely owns the courtroom, starring as a famously brilliant barrister who's supposed to be taking a break for his health-but he gets drawn in by a truly compelling murder trial.

Overall, "Witness for the Prosecution" is very entertaining mystery and court room drama.

The motion picture was very well directed by Billy Wilder who includes several punchlines , amusing dialogues , humor and entertaining intrigue .

A very intense thriller (if one may call so) that is embedded in high drama.

This is the gold standard for enjoyable mystery movies; only "The Lady Vanishes" comes close.

It still remains a compelling film in spite of its old age.

The movie can boast of several top aspects including its powerful and thrilling source novel by Agatha Christie, a top notch British crime writer, the vibrant power and magnetism of Billy Wilder's masterful direction, the overwhelming acting by the cast, the secret riddles that seem to intensify while one after another is seemingly being divulged --- in short, the movie that, by itself, deserves to represent a special genre --- a courtroom drama --- and deservedly so.

Along with fellow screenwriters Larry Marcus and Harry Kurnitz, Wilder has imbued Christie's absorbing story with enough of his trademark humor to make the compelling film a genuine entertainment in the old Hollywood tradition.

The Christie play about a man accused of murdering a rich widow becomes a marvelously entertaining courtroom drama.

Worth the watch on a Saturday afternoon.

This movie is well worth watching.

Sixty years on, it's a dated but still immensely entertaining take on Agatha Christie's short story.

The surprise witness who engineered the mind boggling ending of the movie and convinced the jury and everyone else in the courtroom of Vole's obvious innocence in Mrs. Frenchs murder was not the biggest surprise in the film.

One of the most suspenseful movies I have ever seen, many people confuse the director for Alfred Hitchcock the master of suspense, in fact this brilliant marvel of a movie was directed by none other than Billy Wilder one of the most bewitching director and writer of early Hollywood.

A gripping tale of murder and one of the best judgements given ever on celluloid.

A thoroughly enjoyable film and highly recommended.

As to the bad, the movie is dull looking, resembling an episode of a television series of its time.

You know, I think that she has been given the chance to do this same, tiresome business in at least a third of all the films that she has ever appeared in.

Very often the court room cases are so serious and dull but here Wilder makes it very enjoyable and fun and at the same time very exciting.

Overall then an enjoyable piece of courtroom fluff.

Evocative and atmospheric cinematography in black and white by Russell Harlan .

Who, if not the very best cast, can supply us with the necessary thrill, with the stunning curiosity, with the awesome desire to figure out the still existing 'banana peel?

It was one of the more enjoyable court room movies I have seen and keeps your interest.

This movie is truly gripping.

The polished and engaging plot builds well from the start.

Based on a marvelous play by Agatha Christie, this Billy Wilder film is entertaining throughout.

The acting is fantastic, and the timing makes it a very entertaining old movie to watch.

On the whole the movie is extremely witty filled with the vital thrilling points.

He is the center and the most compelling character.

Enjoyable from every respect.

Laughton and Lanchester Make This One Worth Watching .

But I must agree with the majority of viewers who in the case of "Witness For the prosecution" found the central character played by Charles Laughton to be a valuable and ethical hero for the proceedings, and I must further second their positive reactions to the logic, fun and intriguing twists introduced into the trial depicted and into Laughton's attempts to figure out who actually did the crime.

They even have a flashback so she can play, twenty-five years after the fact, the kind of entertaining role she was known for in the days of Josef von Sternberg (as in "The Blue Angel"--the little nightclub in "Witness" is even called the Blue Lantern).

good watch and makes for enjoyable viewing.

There is good support from John Williams, Ian Wolfe and Henry Danielle and a young Ruta Lee pops up in an unexpected role.

The verdict: guilty of being highly entertaining .

This is one of Billy Wilder's most entertaining and easily watchable films.

It would not have mattered, I suppose, because Sullivan's drawing power in films would not have been a tenth that of Laughton's, but it is fascinating to imagine what he might have done with it.

Entertaining and cunning .

The true revelation, however, about this film is the most unpredictable ending you can ever encounter on screen.

A thrilling one .

A good watch and makes for enjoyable viewing even if you know what is coming .

The film is magnificent in many ways and I enjoyed it even more every time I see the replay.

, The Seven Year Itch) masterful direction, and an ensemble of fantastic actors, all of whom bring their characters to life; Charles Laughton is beyond brilliant as the aging, ailing, wily solicitor, and Tyrone Power is electrifying and fascinating as his client.

Involving and entertaining mystery / court room drama .

Compared to films like this one, "legal" movies from John Grisham's novels are empty and meaningless, without soul.

This movie has much of suspense and the twists are really unexpected, that's something that makes this movie unique.

Charles Laughton's splendid performance coupled with Francis Compton's witty retorts make for compelling reasons for someone to watch the movie.

Witness for the Prosecution is one of the most entertaining courtroom stories of all time, written by the crime mistress herself, Agatha Christie.

Professionally crafted and entertaining, with great characters and an ending that won't leave you disappointed.

Power hands in an excellent performance, his last, and he's especially enjoyable in his flashback scene with Dietrich (who during the filming kept bringing him gifts while Charles Laughton leered at him - I'd say he still had it big time).