Parents' Guide to

Witness for the Prosecution

By Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Classic 1950s courtroom drama has smoking, drinking, murder.

Movie NR 1958 116 minutes
Witness for the Prosecution Poster Image

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During the end credits of this superb mystery drama, an announcer requests that the audience don't tell their friends the ending. This 1950s attempt to cap spoilers for Witness for the Prosecution still stands, as to experience the film's twists with no prior knowledge is something special. But the end is just one of many things that make this movie brilliant. From the start, director Billy Wilder balances comedy and mystery masterfully and the audience leans in further with each new revelation.

Given its elements, it'd be near impossible for Witness for the Prosecution to fail. There's a master director in Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot). Agatha Christie dreamt up the twisted tale. Laughton as Sir Wilfrid Roberts is in a perfect adversarial double act with Elsa Lanchester as his nurse. And as for Tyrone Power and his wife -- played by Marlene Dietrich -- getting to the bottom of their story is a blast. Dietrich is striking, enigmatic, unreadable, and utterly thrilling. Part comedy, part thrilling courtroom drama and a mystery until the very end, this is a quiet classic. Case closed.

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