Tom Brown: What in the name of 10,000 corporals did you come to a country like this for anyways?
Amy Jolly: I understand that men are never asked why they entered the Foreign Legion. . .
Tom Brown: That’s right. They never asked me and if they had I wouldn’t have told. When I crashed the Legion, I ditched the past.
Amy Jolly: There’s a foreign legion of women, too. But we have no uniforms, no flags, and no medals when we are brave; no wound stripes when we are hurt.
Tom Brown: Look here, is there anything I can do to help you?
Amy Jolly: No. I’ve thought that before. Or, do you think you can restore my faith in men?
Tom Brown: Not me. You got the wrong man for that! Anybody who has faith in me is a sucker.
Amy Jolly: You better go now. . .I am beginning to like you.
Tom Brown: I’ve told women about everything a man can say. I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told a woman before: I wish I’d met you ten years ago.
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.
Tanya: Isn’t somebody gonna come and take him away?
Schwartz: Yeah, in just a few minutes. You really liked him didn’t you?
Tanya: The cop did. . .the one who killed him. . .he loved him.
Schwartz: Well, Hank was a great detective all right.
Tanya: And a lousy cop.
Schwartz: Is that all you have to say for him?
Tanya: He was some kind of a man. . . What does it matter what you say about people?
Shanghai Express is an interesting film for a handful of reasons. For one, it was the fourth of seven collaborations between its star Marlene Dietrich and its director Josef von Sternberg. Also, it was made in the Pre-Code era, so it’s deliciously racy. But then there is some inherent racism that is very hard to ignore. It’s very “orientalist,” in that it’s almost voyeuristic in its look at China, having the villain by a “mysterious Eurasian,” (played by a Swedish American actor), and having Anna May Wong play a character who becomes a murderess. Regardless of its faults, Shanghai Express is a must-see classic film, anchored by a sultry performance from Dietrich. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning one: Best Cinematography (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were: Arrowsmith, Bad Girl, The Champ, Five Star Final, One Hour with You, The Smiling Lieutenant and winner Grand Hotel.