Wick Birnam: All right, maybe you’re not a writer. Why don’t you do something else?
Don Birnam: Sure, take a nice job. Public accountant, real estate salesman. I haven’t the guts, Helen. Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. I can’t take quiet desperation.
Helen St. James: But you are a writer. You have every quality for it. Imagination, wit, pity. . .
Like Stanley Donen’s Charade, Witness For The Prosecution is often misremembered as an Alfred Hitchcock films. While the subject matter on paper sounds like a Hitchcock film, the resulting film is most definitely a Billy Wilder film. Since the film came at the end of the Film Noir era I thought it would be a perfect way to end Noirvember. Witness For the Prosecution is not a full-on noir like Wilder’s Sunset Blvd., Double Indemnity or Ace in the Hole, but it definitely borrows from those films. It’s got a wonderful twist ending that I, for once, will not spoil. After the film ends there’s a disclaimer that runs during the credits. A voice-over announces:
“The management of this theatre 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 ofWitness for the Prosecution.”
So I’ll follow the producer’s wishes. Currently, this film is available on instant Netflix, so you can watch it right away if you want!. Witness For The Prosecution was nominated for five Academy Award, though it didn’t win any: Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Supporting Actress Elsa Lanchester, Best Actor Charles Laughton, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture were Sayonara, Peyton Place, 12 Angry Men and winner The Bridge on the River Kwai.
I love both of these films. They are some of Wilder’s lesser-known efforts, but they are definitely worth your time. Five Graves To Cairo in particular is an interesting watch, as it is one of those war films made during the war. You can read the whole press release after the cut.
Richard Sherman: Face it, no pretty girl wants me, she wants Gregory Peck.
The Girl: Is that so? How do you know what a pretty girl wants?
Richard Sherman: I don’t know, but I imagine–
The Girl: Your imagination! You think every girl’s a dope. You think a girl goes to a party and there’s some guy, a great big lunk, in a fancy striped vest strutting around like a tiger, giving you that I’m-so-handsome-you-can’t-resist-me look. And from this she’s supposed to fall flat on her face. Well, she doesn’t fall on her face. But there’s another guy in the room, over in the corner. Maybe he’s nervous and shy and perspiring a little. First, you look past him. But then you sense that he’s gentle and kind and worried. That he’ll be tender with you, nice and sweet. That’s what’s really exciting.
Sabrina Fairchild: You know, you are not exactly what people say you are.
Linus Larrabee: Oh yeah? [beat] What do they say I am?
Sabrina Fairchild: Oh, you know.
Linus Larrabee: No.
Sabrina Fairchild: Well. . .that you’re the world’s only living heart donor.
Linus Larrabee: Oh. That.
Sabrina Fairchild: And. . .how does this one go? Um, “He thinks that morals are paintings on walls and scruples are money in Russia.”
Linus Larrabee: Well, that’s droll.
Sabrina Fairchild: And then there’s my favorite. . .
Linus Larrabee: No, no, no. I get the picture.
Prof. Bertram Potts: What are you going to do?
Sugarpuss O’Shea: Come here. I’m going to show you what yum-yum is. Here’s yum. [kisses him] Here’s the other yum. [kisses him again] And here’s yum-yum. [kisses him a third time]
Prof. Bertram Potts: Excuse me.
Sugarpuss O’Shea: Hey, where are you going?