Witness for the prosecution

witness-for-the-prosecution-posterAmerican black and white crime drama from 1957.
Starring: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton
Director: Billy Wilder
Writers: Agatha Christie, Billy Wilder, Harry Kurnitz, Lawrence B. Marcus
Bechdel test: Fail


A middle aged man is accused of murder and he hires the best lawyer available.  The lawyer will hopefully have the health to see the court case through to the end.


This is a classical murder mystery and it is a good one, mostly due to the acting and the funny, strange and flawed characters.

I had never seen Marlene Dietrich in anything before, but as most others I have heard the many stories about her (some of them are on her wikipedia page). Her screen presence did not disappoint.  Her beauty was special and captivating, the personality of her character came across quite clearly and her renowned status as a WW2 entertainer is even put to use in a scene. I like the movie just because I got to see this legend in action.


The cinematography and sound was suitable for a mostly courtroom drama, and did not stand out overly much.

The actors all had both comedic timing and dramatic talent witch made the shifts between funny and more serious moments natural. However the comedy was based on stereotypes and simple gags that made it seem somewhat old fashioned. It was funny though. At least as long as I chose to overlook the more dated elements.

The story was good and somewhat less superficial then what I expect from Agatha Christie. But all the quirks and strangeness of her more famous detectives, such as Miss Marple and Poirot, were delightfully present. After reading a few of her books (I believe, sometime in my teens), it seemed that I knew what one of her crime stories would contain; detective called in or on vacation, either impossible crime or seemingly none or endless amount of suspects, or at least a “whodunit”, a few minor observations buried on page 259 (or there about) and finally, the detective gathers everyone and slowly, oh so slowly, reveals the murderer. Even though this is an Agatha Christie story, do not expect the typical structure or progression. This is a courtroom drama, and not a “roaming detective” story.


I liked this movie. There were some of the small annoyances that I have come to expect from a movie from this era, but it was a few hours well spent.


I would recommend “Witness for the prosecution” to a friend, and no qualifiers or caveats needed, except standard age restrictions. (In this case children under 13 should probably not see the movie.)

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Witness for the prosecution” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

33 movies down. 332 to go.

If you want to get “Witness for the prosecution” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Scarface“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

One thought on “Witness for the prosecution

  1. Pingback: Roman holiday | Dreamberry

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