Sunday, August 18, 2013

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Today marks my 200th post, and I'm reviewing the film Witness for the Prosecution, which is an awesome rollercoaster ride of a movie.  It follows the final case of an experienced barrister (lawyer) who is retiring due to a heart attack.  His name is Sir Wilfrid Robarts and he is tended to/annoyed by his nurse, Miss Plimsoll.  He even tells her, "if you were a woman, I'd strike you."  The chemistry between them makes it even funnier, and it's interesting to note that the actors playing them are actually husband and wife.

Despite his nurse's advice, Robarts takes on a stressful criminal case.  This is not good for his heart at all.  His client, Leonard Vole, is accused of killing a lonely widow for her inheritance money.  There is a load of circumstantial evidence that could put him away.  Fortunately, his wife can help with his alibi.  Still, it looks hopeless.  This does not deter Robarts because his is one of the best barristers in the area.

Robarts is shocked when he actually meets Vole's wife, Christine.  She is tough and coolheaded.  Christine was a cabaret singer in war-torn Germany.  I recognized her as Lola Lola from The Blue Angel!  She was so desperate to get out she agreed to marry Vole even though she was already legally married.  They had a wedding ceremony but nothing official.  Christine has kept this knowledge secret this entire time.  Because of this, she is called in as a witness for the prosecution.  A wife can't testify against her husband, but Christine can, because legally she's not his wife!  She tells the jury that his alibi is false and he admitted to killing the widow.  Robarts calls her out on her constant lying.  She lied about being single, has been lying all these years, so how can anyone trust her now?

The best part of this film is that it has so many twists and shocking surprises.  Is Christine lying for her own gain, or is it an elaborate plan to free her husband?  It is a very entertaining film to watch.  And though the ending may be disappointing, I can explain that.  Back then, it had to be shown that criminals could not profit from their evil deeds.  Vole couldn't just go and spend that money on a cruise with his new arm candy.  He had to suffer for his crime.  If they ever decide to remake this, I hope they leave the ending more open. I will give this film an 8/10.

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