A courtroom meller played engagingly and building evenly to a surprising and arousing, albeit tricked-up, climax, Witness for the Prosecution has been transferred to the screen (from the Agatha Christie click play) with competence [adaptation by Larry Marcus].
Under Billy Wilder’s direction, Prosecution unfolds realistically, generating a quiet and steady excitement.
Cleverly worked out is the story line which has defense attorney Charles Laughton, along with the audience, wholly convinced that the likeable chap played by Tyrone Power is innocent, that he couldn’t have murdered the rich widow who had taken a fancy to him. A disturbing note, however, is the unexpected attitude taken by Power’s wife (Marlene Dietrich) who, as it turns out, is not legally married to him and thus is not restrained from testifying against him.
Laughton, sage of the courtroom and cardiac patient who’s constantly disobeying his nurse’s orders, plays out the part flamboyantly and colorfully. His reputation for scenery chewing is unmarred via this outing.
1957: Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Charles Laughton), Supp. Actress (Elsa Lanchester), Editing, Sound