Monday, December 27, 2010

Witness for the Prosecution

I said before that Billy Wilder is one of the few directors who can do drama and comedy excellently. And with nine of his movies down the hatch, the claim has still held up.

Esteemed barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) has just returned to practice after suffering a heart attack and supposed to be put on a diet of bland bland civil suits. But the case of Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), who is accused of murdering a wealthy widow, proves irresistible, particularly when Sir Wilfrid meets the accused's wife, the remarkable Christine Vole (Marlene Dietrich). Christine appears as a witness: not for the defense, but for the prosecution.

Witness for the Prosecution is a well-acted courtroom drama from Wilder. Laughton, Power, Dietrich and Elsa Lanchester (she play Sir Wilfrid's nurse) all play their roles excellently, Dietrich especially. She meets the criteria for a Wilder woman: dangerous and manipulative. The script is infused with Agatha Christie's wit and Wilder's humor. My opinion on the ending? Well, let's just say it reminded me of the ending for Primal Fear.

My Rating: *****

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