Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My New Favorite Movie: Witness for the Prosecution


I've been going through a list of several classic law movies.

Today I watched Witness for the Prosecution, which is from 1957, and was in black and white.

I loved it!

Basically, it's the story of a lawyer (Sir Wilfrid) who had some heart problem and is not supposed to stress himself, but then defends a guy accused of committing murder.  And then there's this huge surprise, which is that his wife testifies against him.  I think that's probably about as much as the cover would say.

There are six parts that I just really loved (enough to take note of), in addition to many other amusing parts.

1.  At the very beginning, Sir Wilfrid is coming home to like, his law building (downstairs) and house (upstairs), and he has this way uptight nurse who is coming home with him.

She's chattering in the car and says, "Shall we roll up the window, Sir Wilfrid?"
And he says, "Just roll up your mouth, you talk too much. If I'd known how much you talk I'd never have come out of my coma."

2.  They've had a stair lift installed while he was in hospital, and he plays with it, riding up and down.  I didn't even know stair lifts existed in the 50's!

3.  The nurse keeps trying to get him to go upstairs and rest, and he's started talking to these men about the case that he is definitely not supposed to take, and at one point, the nurse calls from the top of the stairs, "Sir Wilfrid!  You're dawdling again!"  And then she claps at him!  Love. It.

4.  There's this part where the guy accused of murder is explaining how he knew the lady he was accused of murdering, and he's talking about how they became friends, and about the first time he visited her home.  And the lady had a collection of African masks and stuff, and they're from when the lady and her belated husband had lived in Africa.  And the lady talks about this one mask that was a witch doctor mask.  

Lady:  "Hubert and I collected all these things when we lived in Africa.  Hubert was my husband."
Accused guy:  "Well, now, there's a loveable chap."  (And he points at this wild mask.)
Lady:  "That's the mask of the witch doctor.  He wore it when he pulled our servants' teeth.  So Hubert used to call him a witch dentist.  Hubert was so witty."

A witch dentist!  That kills me. I would have liked Hubert, I think.  Almost as much as Sir Wilfrid.

5.  They've told Sir Wilfrid that he can take this case only if he promises to go somewhere relaxing like the Bahamas or something right after the case, like so that he can't keep doing stressful work.  And at one point they're bothering him about vacation stuff, and Wilfrid snaps at his nurse, "Shut up.  You just want to see me in those nasty shorts."  (Bermuda shorts that they've ordered him.)  This maybe doesn't sound very funny, but it is quite funny coming from an old English guy who wears one of those powdered wigs and a monocle.

6.  Okay, this last part isn't really a movie quote.  It's an announcement that comes on as the credits are starting at the end.  It announces, "The management of this theater suggests that for the greater entertainment of your friends who have not yet seen the picture you will not divulge to anyone the secret of the ending of Witness for the Prosecution."  Gasp!  An official announcement telling every viewer not to spoil the ending for other people?!  Amazing.

So.  I won't tell you how things all end (because I care about your greater entertainment), but this is definitely a movie to see if you haven't seen it yet.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

That's Katie Nana from Mary Poppins!