8.4/10
94,411
235 user 95 critic

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 6 February 1958 (USA)
A veteran British barrister must defend his client in a murder trial that has surprise after surprise.

Director:

Billy Wilder

Writers:

Agatha Christie (in Agatha Christie's international stage success), Billy Wilder (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
4,020 ( 518)

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
Top Rated Movies #67 | Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses the suspicion of an insurance investigator.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
The Apartment (1960)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
Adventure | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A New York City advertising executive goes on the run after being mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou
Comedy | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

When two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon
M (1931)
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut
The Sting (1973)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Two grifters team up to pull off the ultimate con.

Director: George Roy Hill
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
Vertigo (1958)
Mystery | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A former police detective juggles wrestling with his personal demons and becoming obsessed with a hauntingly beautiful woman.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes
Rear Window (1954)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.

Directors: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Stars: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel's regime.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tyrone Power ... Leonard Vole
Marlene Dietrich ... Christine
Charles Laughton ... Sir Wilfrid Roberts
Elsa Lanchester ... Miss Plimsoll
John Williams ... Brogan-Moore
Henry Daniell ... Mayhew
Ian Wolfe ... Carter
Torin Thatcher ... Mr. Myers
Norma Varden ... Mrs. Emily Jane French
Una O'Connor ... Janet MacKenzie
Francis Compton ... Judge
Philip Tonge ... Inspector Hearne
Ruta Lee ... Diana
Edit

Storyline

Britain, 1953. Upon his return to work following a heart attack, barrister takes on a murder case,. The case is defending American war vet Leonard Vole, a poor, out of work, struggling inventor who's accused of murdering his middle-aged lonely and wealthy acquaintance, Emily French. The evidence is circumstantial but points to Leonard as the murderer, butr the csse has constant revelations. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's climaxed by the 10 breath-stopping minutes you ever lived! Don't reveal the ending-please! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

6 February 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Testigo de cargo See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$8,175,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$16,350,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Unsure if he could convincingly play a man with a heart condition, Charles Laughton staged a heart attack in the pool one day at home. His wife, Elsa Lanchester, and a houseguest panicked and pulled him from the water, at which point he explained his trick. Lanchester's reaction has not been recorded. See more »

Goofs

Both Sir Wilfred and Mr. Myers introduce evidence directly to the court themselves, which is against courtroom procedure. Sir Wilfred, for example, trumps Inspector Hearne's testimony by directly revealing Leonard Vole's blood type, instead of properly calling a witness with personal or professional knowledge of it. See more »

Quotes

Sir Wilfrid: Might as well get a bigger box of more mothballs and put me away to.
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the end credits appear on screen, an announcer's voice is heard: "The management of this theater suggests that for the greater entertainment of your friends who have not yet seen the picture you will not divulge to anyone the secret of the ending of Witness for the Prosecution." See more »

Connections

Featured in TCM Guest Programmer: Gene Wilder (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

I May Never Go Home Anymore
Music by Ralph Arthur Roberts
Lyrics by Jack Brooks
Sung by Marlene Dietrich (uncredited)
Reprised a cappella by Tyrone Power (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
The Goal Is Always Justice
6 March 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In a recent biography of Billy Wilder, Agatha Christie is quoted as saying that this was the best adaption of her work ever done on the screen. I can't praise Witness for the Prosecution any higher than that.

Tyrone Power in his farewell film plays Leonard Vole who befriends a dotty old widow played by Norma Varden. She even rewrites her will leaving him the bulk of a very large estate. When she's murdered, Scotland Yard arrests Power.

Power's solicitor Henry Daniell retains a dream team for defense of John Williams and the recently recovered Charles Laughton. Laughton is recovering from a heart attack and against medical advice plunges into the case. Laughton also has to deal with the efforts of his assigned nurse Elsa Lanchester to keep him following doctor's advice.

The original play this was taken from concentrated completely on the Power character and the machinations of his wife. Wilder built up the character of the nurse and barrister Sir Wilfred Robards so that they almost equaled the screen time of Mr. and Mrs. Vole. So much so that Charles Laughton was nominated for an Academy Award in 1957, but lost to Alec Guinness.

Marlene Dietrich plays Mrs. Vole. She's a war bride over from Germany and she's got her own agenda going. Her performance and what her character does is the key to the whole film. Dietrich probably would have gotten an Oscar nomination herself, but due to the fact that if her performance was hyped up for Academy consideration, the element of surprise would have been lost in the film. Wilder in fact apologized to Marlene for that.

The Anglo-Saxon legal system's goal is justice. Justice is served though not quite in the way it usually is in Witness for the Prosecution.


48 of 56 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 235 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed