Witness for the Prosecution

Synopsis: It's Britain, 1953. Upon his return to work following a heart attack, irrepressible barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts, known as a barrister for the hopeless, takes on a murder case, much to the exasperation of his medical team, led by his overly regulated private nurse, Miss Plimsoll, who tries her hardest to ensure that he not return to his hard living ways - including excessive cigar smoking and drinking - while he takes his medication and gets his much needed rest. That case is defending American war veteran Leonard Vole, a poor, out of work, struggling inventor who is accused of murdering his fifty-six year old lonely and wealthy widowed acquaintance, Emily French. The initial evidence is circumstantial but points to Leonard as the murderer. Despite being happily married to East German former beer hall performer Christine Vole, he fostered that friendship with Mrs. French in the hopes that she would finance one of his many inventions to the tune of a few hundred pounds. It thus does no
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director(s): Billy Wilder
Production: MGM
  Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
116 min

Silence. Be upstanding in court.

All persons who have

anything to do before my lords,

the queen's justices of oyer and terminer

and general jail delivery

for the jurisdiction

of the Central Criminal Court

draw near and give your attendance.

God save the queen.

What a beautiful day. I've been hoping

for a bit of sun for our homecoming.

It's worth having the fog just to appreciate

the sunshine. Is there a draught?

- Shall I roll up the window?

- Roll up your mouth. You talk too much.

If I'd known how much you talked

I'd never have come out of my coma.

- This thing weighs a ton.

- Now, now.

We've been flat on our back

for two months, we'd better be careful.

Lovely, lovely. It must be perfectly lovely

to live and work in the Inns of Court.

How lucky you lawyers are.

I almost married a lawyer.

I was in attendance for his appendectomy

and we became engaged

as soon as he could sit up.

And then peritonitis set in

and he went like that.

He certainly was a lucky lawyer.

Teeny-weeny steps, now. Remember

we had a teeny-weeny heart attack.

Oh, shut up!

Williams, my cane.

Here he comes!

Good afternoon. Thank you very much.

Everybody back to work.

Sir Wilfrid, if you don't mind, I'd like

to read you a poem to welcome you back.

Very touching. You can recite it

after office hours in your own time.

Now back to work.

What's the matter with you?

Nothing. I'm just happy

that you're your old self again.

Any more sentimentality around here,

I shall go back to the hospital!

They won't take him back.

He wasn't really discharged, you know,

he was expelled for conduct

unbecoming a cardiac patient.

Put these in water, blabbermouth!

Come on in, Carter.

Look at this room.

It's ugly, old and musty.

But I never knew

I could miss anything so much.

- Missed you too, you musty old buzzard.

- Oh, thank you, sir.

I'm not a religious man, but when they

carted you off, I went out and lit a candle.

- Why, thank you, Carter.

- Actually, sir, I was lighting it for myself.

If anything happened to you,

what would happen to me, after 37 years?

Yes, sir. This is 1952, that was in October

The chemist accused of putting

cyanide in his uncle's toothpaste.

My first murder trial.

I was more frightened than the defendant.

First time I rose to make an objection,

my wig fell off. Where's my wig?

Right here.

- I've guarded it with me life.

- I hope it still fits.

I lost 30lbs in that wretched hospital.

Still, I suppose my head isn't any smaller.

What's all this?

- We've put it in mothballs.

- Mothballs? Am I not to practise again?

Of course. The solicitors

have been breaking down our doors.

- I've got some interesting briefs for you.

- That's better.

Divorce case, a tax appeal,

and an important marine insurance claim.

- Nice smooth matters with excellent fees.

- No, Carter.

I'm sorry, but you're not to undertake

any criminal cases. Your doctors have...

Doctors! They've deprived me of alcohol,

tobacco, female companionship.

If only they'd let me do

something worthwhile!

Sorry, sir.

Might as well get a bigger box,

more mothballs, put me away too.

- 2.30, Sir Wilfrid. Time for our little nap!

- Oh, get out!

Beddy-bye. We'd better go upstairs now,

get undressed and lie down.

- We? What a nauseating prospect.

- Upstairs, please.

Are you aware that, while on my sickbed,

I seriously considered strangling you

with one of your own rubber tubes.

I would then have admitted the crime,

retained myself for the defence.

My lord, members of the jury, I hereby

enter a plea of justifiable homicide.

For four months this alleged

angel of mercy has pored, probed,

punctured, pillaged and plundered

my helpless body

while tormenting my mind

with a steady drip of baby talk.

Come along now, like a good boy. Oh, no.

Take your hands off me,

or I'll strike you with my cane.

- You wouldn't, it might break your cigars.

- What cigars?

- The ones you're smuggling in your cane.

- Cane?

You could be jailed for this.

You had no search warrant.

In hospital he'd hide cigars and brandy

all over the place.

We called him Wilfrid the fox.

- I'm confiscating these.

- Can't I have just one?

No. Upstairs.

A few puffs after meals? Please.

I'll do it. Some dark night when her back

is turned, I'll snatch her thermometer

and plunge it between

her shoulder blades. So help me, I will.

Oh, no, sir. You mustn't walk up. We've

installed something for you here. It's a lift.

A lift? I'm sick of this plot

to make me a helpless invalid.

I think it's a splendid idea.

Let's try it, shall we?

Out of there. I'll try it.

It's my lift because it was my heart attack.

Here you are. Simply press this button

for up and this one for down.

Carter, I warn you,

if this contraption should collapse,

if the barrister

should fall off the bannister...


Smoothest flight I've had in years.

- Upsy-daisy!

- Once more to get the feel of the controls.

Good afternoon.

Is it possible to see Sir Wilfrid?

I didn't make an appointment,

but this is urgent.

If it's about a brief, I'm sorry, but we're

full. Sir Wilfrid has all that he can handle.

I'm sure he'll want this brief.

Serious criminal matter.

Absolutely not, Mr Mayhew.

Sir Wilfrid is still convalescent.

He can't accept anything

of an overstimulating nature.

Put me on a diet of bland civil suits.

Hello, Mayhew.

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Agatha Christie

Prolific author of mysteries in early part of 1900s. Creator of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, a Belgian sleuth. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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