Combustible Celluloid
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With: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, John Williams, Henry Daniell, Ian Wolfe, Torin Thatcher, Norma Varden, Una O'Connor, Francis Compton, Philip Tonge, Ruta Lee
Written by: Billy Wilder, Harry Kurnitz, Larry Marcus, based on a play by Agatha Christie
Directed by: Billy Wilder
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 116
Date: 12/17/1957

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Smelling Salts & Brandy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Billy Wilder's Witness for the Prosecution casts the great scenery-chomper Charles Laughton in Agatha Christie's courtroom play, based on one of her short stories. Marlene Dietrich plays the wife of Tyrone Power, accused of killing an old lady for her money. Wilder plays the suspense well, but this movie belongs to Laughton, who plays the cynical barrister, makes his every line resonate like music and thunder. "I am constantly surprised that women's hats do not provoke more murders." Laughton's wife, Elsa Lanchester, plays a nurse.

Kino Lorber released a 2014 Blu-ray edition. The black and white transfer is very fine, and the sound is clear. It has one extra, some brief, old interview footage of Billy Wilder, plus a trailer. There are no optional subtitles.

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