Saturday, March 21, 2009

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

A rich widow is dead and the dashing ne're-do-well Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), who had been showing her a lot of attention lately, is accused of the murder. Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton), against the advice of his nursemaid (Elsa Lanchester, the Bride in Bride of Frankenstein and Laughton's real-life wife), takes Vole's case.

Like all Agatha Christie stories, there are many characters, details, and plot twists. Marlene Dietrich plays Power's none too helpful wife, some 12 years his senior (and looking every minute of it). Una O'Connor (the maid in Bride of Frankenstein) plays the maid, the last role of her life. Great performances, all.

I had never seen a Dietrich movie and I now understand what Madeline Kahn was doing in Blazing Saddles. I also never saw Tyrone Power before, who died at 44 the same year the movie was released. I'm curious to see more from them.

Through the film we learn more about Vole's relationship with the widow French (Norma Varden), and more about his relation ship with the Mrs. Vole. This movie was a pleasure. The complex plot kept me guessing and the dialog and acting were great. Definitely worth a second viewing. The AFI called it the 6th best cortroom drama and I give it an AMRU of 4.

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