So here I am, sobbing and wiping my tears over the ending of Roman Holiday. More on that later. But then comes along TCM, showing Witness For The Prosecution. I jumped at it straight away, considering that it’s one of my favorite Agatha Christie stories, and also because it stars Tyrone Power. This is my third Tyrone Power film, after The Mark of Zorro and The Black Swan, and gosh, his role is so different here.
I watched the film, knowing one twist, because I’d read the short story, but they used the alternate ending used in the play, not in the book. WHICH WAS AMAZING. I was just sitting on my bed for ten minutes after the film, gasping and gasping. And the whole film is so enjoyable, you just have to see it.
Getting to the story, a barrister, Sir Wilfrid (Charles Laughton) is returning after a heart attack, and he’s got the super-annoying nurse, Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester) with him. He’s so annoyed with her, and what adds to it is the fact that he can’t take any more criminal cases. Then his friend, Mr. Mayhew (Henry Daniell) comes in with his client, Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power).
Leonard’s suspected of murdering Miss Emily French (Norma Varden), a middle-aged unmarried lady. They were both on friendly terms, and he has no alibi on the night of the murder, except his wife, Christine Vole (Marlene Dietrich), who will testify. Leonard describes how he met Miss French, telling her which hat to buy and which not to, peeking in from a store window.
They meet again at the showing of a film, Jesse James (Which Tyrone Power did act in and it made me fall off the bed laughing.), and soon, they become friends. But Miss French’s housekeeper, Janet McKenzie (Una O’Connor) doesn’t like Leonard a whole lot. Anyway, cut back to Sir Wilfrid’s office, and guess what, the police are here to arrest Leonard. And I’m flipping around on my bed like there’s no tomorrow, wondering what’s gonna happen to him. (Hey. It’s Tyrone Power. My concern is justified.)
Christine meets Sir Wilfrid, and overturns all of Leonard’s impressions that she is a nice person. Sir Wilfrid begins by saying that her testimony wouldn’t carry much weight, considering that she’s the accused’s wife, and probably would lie. Christine states that she’s not his wife, and in fact, already has a husband in Germany. She apparently only married Leonard so that he could bring her out of her war-torn country and into the safety of England.
Sir Wilfrid (and I) is kind of disturbed at her behavior, and goes to meet Leonard. And they find out that Miss French had left him an inheritance of 80,000 pounds. Which is obviously something the prosecution’s going to exploit. (Leonard’s reaction is so damn funny, one second he’s all “YAAAAAY MONEY” and the next he’s “oh crap I just realized what this means”.)
Anyway. The trial begins. Sir Wilfrid does an awesome job of disproving the housekeeper, Janet McKenzie’s, statements in court, because she is so biased against Leonard. She calls him a “drifting, shiftless, screaming, scoundrel”, and, well, her statements are just shot and sunk. Score one for Leonard. (And I literally jumped up and danced when Tyrone just had the slightest hint of a smile on his face.)
But guess what? Christine’s here to give testimony – not for the defence, but for the prosecution. And on top of that, she says that he killed Emily French. WTH? If you want to see what happens next, watch the film! Seriously. You have to see this. If one of my friends says that you haven’t lived till you’ve watched Duck Dynasty (Some idiot show about people who talk funny, and need to learn how to shave. I’m better off without that, thank you!), I say that you haven’t lived till you’ve watched Witness For The Prosecution. It’s that good.
I thought that film was pure amazing, and very well-acted by everyone. The dialogue is witty and sharp (“Touching, isn’t it, the way he trusts his wife?” “Yes, like a drowning man clinging onto a razor blade.”), and the chemistry between Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester, as the barrister and the overprotective nurse, is amazing. :D