Sunday, November 16, 2008

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Set in Nuremberg, 1948, this movie is about an American court, led by Judge Haywood (Spencer Tracy), tries four Nazi judges. The American prosecutor (Richard Widmark) tries very hard to get the defendants maximum punishment, but their lawyer, Rolfe, is also very good. Through the trial, Rolfe, who admires Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster), one of the defendants, will try to explain to the court that the 4 judges only did their duty for their beloved country.

The movie is about 3 hours long, but from start to finish it's very emotional. Judge Haywood tries his best to understand why the 4 judges, especially Janning, did what they did. I like Haywood. In Deux hommes dans la ville, Cazeneuve says something like, "Justice must understand the man it judges." The standard of justice can be different to every man, so one must really understand the reason first. Haywood spends his time to read Janning's books and later he befriends a widow of a late high ranked officer in military, Mrs Bertholt (Marlene Dietrich), who tells him that Hitler hated her husband and Janning.

Among the solid cast, I'm really impressed with Maximilian Schell (Rolfe) and Montgomery Clift, who plays one of the witnesses, a mental retarded man. This movie is very good and I hope in the future writers can create dialogues as excellent as in this movie. Sometimes I think movies based on real facts have better plots than fictional stories.

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