Witness for the Prosecution
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, Witness for the Prosecution 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, Witness for the Prosecution was remade for television in 1982.