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Witness for the Prosecution Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

Having just recovered from a heart attack, fabled British barrister Sir Wilfred Robards (Charles Laughton) has been ordered by his doctor to give up everything he holds dear-brandy, cigars and especially courtroom cases. Robards' already shaky resolve to follow doctor's orders flies out the window when he takes up the defense of Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), a personable young man accused of murdering a rich old widow. The case becomes something of a sticky wicket when Vole's "loving" German wife Christine (Marlene Dietrich) announces that she's not legally married to Robards' client-and she fully intends to appear as a witness for the prosecution! At the close of this film, a narrator implores the audience not to divulge the ending; we will herein honor that request. A delicious Billy Wilder mixture of humor, intrigue and melodrama, Billy Wilder is distinguished by its hand-picked supporting cast: John Williams as the police inspector, Henry Daniell as Robards' law partner, Una O'Connor as the murder victim's stone-deaf maid, Torin Thatcher as the prosecutor, Ruta Lee as a sobbing courtroom spectator, and Charles Laughton's wife Elsa Lanchester as Robards' ever-chipper nurse (a role especially written for the film, so that Lanchester could look after Laughton on the set). And keep an eye out for that uncredited actress playing the vengeful-and pivotal-cockney. Adapted by Wilder, Harry Kurnitz and Larry Marcus from the play by Agatha Christie, Billy Wilder was remade for television in 1982. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:December 21, 1957

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Billy Wilder Best Director 1957 Nominee
Directors Guild of America Billy Wilder Best Director 1957 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Billy Wilder Best Director 1957 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charles Laughton Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama 1957 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Charles Laughton Best Actor 1957 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Marlene Dietrich Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama 1957 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Elsa Lanchester Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture 1957 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Elsa Lanchester Best Supporting Actress 1957 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Arthur Hornblow, Jr. Best Picture 1957 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Dan Mandell Best Editing 1957 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Gordon Sawyer Best Sound 1957 Nominee

Cast

Tyrone Power
as Leonard Stephen Vole
Marlene Dietrich
as Christine "Helm" Vole
Charles Laughton
as Sir Wilfrid Robarts
Elsa Lanchester
as Miss Plimsoll
Una O'Connor
as Janet MacKenzie
Henry Daniell
as Mayhew
Ian Wolfe
as Carter
Torin Thatcher
as Mr. Meyers
Francis Compton
as Judge
Norma Varden
as Mrs. Emily French
Philip Tonge
as Inspector Hearne
Ruta Lee
as Diana
Molly Roden
as Miss McHugh
Ottola Nesmith
as Miss Johnson
Marjorie Eaton
as Miss O'Brien
J. Pat O'Malley
as Shorts Salesman

Crew

Billy Wilder
Director
Arthur Hornblow, Jr.
Producer
Edward Small
Producer
Larry Marcus
Adaptation by
Harry Kurnitz
Screenwriter
Agatha Christie
Play Author
Billy Wilder
Screenwriter
Russell Harlan
Cinematographer
Ernest Gold
Musical Direction/Supervision
Dan Mandell
Editor
Alexandre Trauner
Art Director
Howard Bristol
Set Designer
Edith Head
Costume Designer
Fred Lau
Sound/Sound Designer
Emmett Emerson
First Assistant Director
Ray Sebastian
Makeup
Frank Losee
Second Assistant Director
Gus Norin
Makeup
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