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Witness For the Prosecution (1957)

Tyrone Power , Marlene Dietrich , Billy Wilder  |  NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (285 customer reviews)

Price: $19.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, John Williams
  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Writers: Billy Wilder, Agatha Christie, Harry Kurnitz, Lawrence B. Marcus
  • Producers: Arthur Hornblow Jr., Edward Small
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: December 11, 2001
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (285 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005PJ6Z
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,566 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Witness For the Prosecution" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton star in this brilliantly made courtroom drama (The Film Daily) that left audiences reeling from its surprise twists and shocking climax. Directed by Billy Wilder, scripted by Wilder and Harry Kurnitz and based on Agatha Christie's hit London play, this splendid, six-time Oscar-nominated* classic crackles with emotional electricity (The New York Times) and continues to keep movie lovers riveted until the final, mesmerizing frame. When a wealthy widow is found murdered, her married suitor, Leonard Vole (Power), is accused of the crime. Vole's only hope for acquittal is the testimony of his wife (Dietrich) but his airtightalibi shatters when she reveals some shocking secrets of her own! *1957: Best Picture, Actor (Laughton), Supporting Actress (Elsa Lanchester), Director, Sound, Film Editing

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
95 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Extraordinary Performance by Charles Laughton September 2, 2002
Although this film is filled with a bevy of excellent actors and actresses, and although he did play the part of Gracchus in SPARTACUS a couple of years later, and an excellent supporting role in ADVISE AND CONSENT a couple of years after that, this is the last truly great performance in the career of perhaps the greatest character actor film has seen. Charles Laughton was in no sense a leading man: obsese, unattractive, unathletic, awkward. He nonetheless managed to put together an astonishing career. WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION was released in 1957, but until that moment, the 1950s had not been kind to Laughton, whose greatest success came in the 1930s and 1940s. He had directed the remarkable THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER in 1955, but his acting parts in the decade, apart from David Lean's HOBSON'S CHOICE, were for the most part undistinguished and not among the finest of his career. WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION is Laughton's glorious return and, because of declining health, last great role. If WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION had nothing else to recommend it, Laughton's performance would make it well, well worth seeing.
Luckily, this film has far more than Laughton to recommend it. Ironically, it was also the last great role for Tyrone Power, for whom WITNESS was also a part of a comeback (he also excelled in THE SUN ALSO RISES). I have to say, for anyone who had seen Power in films in the 1940s, his physical appearance in 1957 is shocking. Much like Errol Flynn, he had lived a hard life, and it shows. He would die of a heartattack a year after this performance, and looks much older than 43 years old.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Trial Movie That Still Holds Up May 2, 2006
This is one of the best "trial movies" ever made. It's an outstanding film that is just as good today as it was almost 50 years ago when it was released in the theaters. The shocking ending caused quite a stir back then, too.

The only part of the movie I thought looked dated and unrealistic was Tyrone Power's character being able to interrupt the trial with outbursts and not be reprimanded for it. There is no way that would be tolerated, at least today.

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.

Laughton, who plays Power's defense attorney, grabs the spotlight in the story but Dietrich almost steals the movie in her role as Power's wife. Laughton's dialog is terrific throughout, bringing a number of laughs to this serious film. He's just a joy to watch. Dietrich is even more riveting but just doesn't have anywhere near the same amount of screen time as Laughton.

Not to be overlooked is Elsa Lanchester, playing Laughton's nurse. She, too, demonstrates her comedic talent and significantly adds to the fun of watching this film.

If you like some fine drama, storyline twists, a little humor thrown in and great acting and dialog, this is a classic film to check out.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Laughton steals the show... March 20, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Elsa Lanchester is brilliant as the nurse for the acerbic barrister, newly home from the hospital after suffering a heart attack; nevertheless, he continues to smoke cigars and drink brandy whenever he can be skillful enough to hide them from the ever watchful Miss Plimsill (Lanchester). Tyrone Power is superb as the charming, disingenuous ne'er-do-well, unable to settle down after the War, and inventing egg beaters that beat AND separate the yolk from the white, and other dubious household necessities. Marlene Dietrich makes a Grand Entrance, and promptly puzzles Sir Wilfrid beyond speech, with her apparent cool, collected behaviour upon hearing her husband is going to be charged with the murder of Emily French, a rich older widow befriended by Power when he assisted her in the selection of a hat. The trial is the real action and centerpiece of the movie. but I enjoyed the byplay between Sir Wilfrid and Miss Plimsill even more...upon emerging from the car when he first comes home, Miss Plimsill reminds him to "Take teeny weeny steps, Sir Wilfrid, remember, we had a teeny weeny heart attack..." to which he replies: "Oh shut up." And his threats (after she confiscates some cigars he was smuggling in his cane) "I'll do it some dark night when her back is turned; I'll plunge her thermometer between her shoulder blades..." There are many unexpected twists here, and the ending is a real shocker, a complete surprise, and quite satisfying. Great performances by an exceptional cast, and as always, IMHO, Laughton steals the show.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than The Sum Of It's Parts -- By Far March 4, 2007
Dietrich never had much good to say about this film; she didn't like the set, thought Power inadequate and was generally turned off by it. I think probably she was disappointed that the public didn't respond with the praise she felt she deserved, in her "transformation" scene. We can look back on it now and see that she did a good, professional job. But then, that's what makes this courtroom whodunnit drama so fine: the high level of performance by all the actors involved. You can count them all one by one: Agatha Christie for the story; Billy Wilder for at least half the screenplay; Charles Laughton in one of his best roles and supported by his wife the excellent comedienne Elsa Lanchester; the best English character actors in the business, and Dietrich in probably her least sympathetic -- and therefore most remarkable -- performance. As to Tyrone Power? He played the part of an ex-RAF guy, drifting from job to job and mostly living off his wife; a sleaze-ball seller of novelty egg-beaters, door-to-door who preys on lonely women. In other words, the kind of guy who could only get by on his looks. Power had much more than his looks to get by on, and here, the rest is acting. Marlene probably just had somebody else in mind for the role of Lawrence Vole.

This play was a hit for a very long time for Patricia Jessel, in London, and one can only imagine the intrigue Dietrich must have resorted to to get the role for herself. Billy Wilder's wife is reported to have called Dietrich "a whore," (how many Hollywood wives must have said the same?)but in all probability it was only because both Marlene and Billy came out of Pre-War Berlin and Vienna and as expatriates spent a great deal of time talking intimately about the project, in German.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply one of the best movies ever
Simply one of the best movies ever. Charles Laughton is devine as the poster boy for crusty curmudgeons, and I cannot give Miss Marlene enough credit in this film. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Roxy Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie and excellent service!!
Published 2 days ago by gloria morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
If it's an Agatha Christie
I'm hooked!
Published 2 days ago by Annette Vannostrand
4.0 out of 5 stars A good old mystery movie
They definitely fooled me a few times in this movie. Tyrone powers in a role that is unexpected. Marlena Dietriche was unexpected even more.
A good old mystery movie.
Published 3 days ago by GMB
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great movie quick delivery
Published 6 days ago by david hedge
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 13 days ago by ANDREW K. DUNCAN
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie
Published 14 days ago by Dansoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely great
This is one of the all time great movies with a cast of actors who really know how to act their parts. Read more
Published 14 days ago by D Severn
5.0 out of 5 stars it was a great movie. How Tyrone Powers character played both sides...
it was a great movie. How Tyrone Powers character played both sides was amazing. One must really think, Can this really happen in real life situations?
Published 20 days ago by Dana M. Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Great transfer of a classic!
Don't have this restored classic? Turn in your movie buff pin. Great transfer and even acceptable audio. Wonderful performances from some of filmdom's greats.
Published 23 days ago by Robert Vargo
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