Wilder easily elevates what we might deduct is a play of few sets, and he rightfully leaves the performers in charge of the theatrics. But the streamlined pursuits of Christie don't encourage many secondary joys aside from mystery, a shame when the wartime setting offers such meaning. Devilish at what it is effective at.
Charles Laughton is so great as the infirmed barrister and Dietrich seems better utilized than usual in this cold war set Agatha Christie adaptation. The weakest link is Tyrone Power but I guess it's becasue he's got the thankless role of playing the straight man!
Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich and Billy Wilder. What a combination. It's definitely one of the most entertaining and joyous courtroom movies (it's not a comedy but it's not a drama either) I've ever watched, but not only because of the last ten minutes. Aside from the cinematography and the dollar bin set design, everything here from the acting to the directing and the script just soars on the screen.
Want to kiss me, Ducky? Indeed! Wilder does a marvelous job fleshing out a stage play here, but WITNESS lives and dies on the strength (monumental strength) of two performances. First Laughton. I could watch Laughton do anything, and could do so w/ rapt attention. And the first sign that this thing is descending into delicious camp, is the immortal Marlene Dietrich letting it (suddenly, gloriously) all hang out.