Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Sir Wilfrid Roberts (Charles Laughton) a master barrister has just returned home from convalescing from a recent heart attack. Upon his first day at home he is presented with Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power) who is accused of the murder of the wealthy widow, Mrs. Emily French (Norma Varden). Using his charm and personality he quickly wins the affections of Mrs. French who ends up making him beneficiary of her will. After the arrest of Vole, Sir Wilfrid meets the German born Christine Vole (Marlene Dietrich) whose visit cast doubt upon her husband’s story. It will because of this meeting that Sir Wilfrid will refuse to call the cold and self possessing Mrs. Vole to testify for her husband. However, the prosecution sees an advantage in questioning this important witness to her husband’s events. Now Sir Wilfrid must fight for his client despite the facts presented and the circumstantial evidence in the case. In doing so, he will be constantly followed by his annoyingly overly doting nurse, Miss Plimsoll (Laughton’s wife in real life, Elsa Lanchester).
Real life husband and wife, Laughton and Lanchester, married since 1929 had frequently appeared together in film. This, their final pairing, both would receive Academy Award Nominations for the performances in this film. The relationship between Sir Wildrid and Miss Plimsoll provides much comic relief to this intense film.
This would be Powers final screen role. He would die the following year filming a dueling scene in Spain. Powers typically known for being the swashbuckling hero, died with a sword in his hand.
Images from: Witness for the Prosecution Dir. Billy Wilder. United Artists, 1957. DVD.