I first saw this movie a few years back on TCM and it destroyed me. I saw it recently at the Castro Theatre and I guess I had forgotten a few things about it because there were whole plot twists I didn’t remember and it destroyed me all over again. If you haven’t seen this film before, beware I will be discussing some of the film’s major plot twists. Random Harvest came out the same year as arguably Greer Garson’s most famous film – Mrs. Miniver – as such, she was nominated (an won) Best Actress for playing the titular role in that film, and was ineligible to be nominated for her performance in this film. Regardless, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, though it failed to win any: Best Score, Best B&W Art Direction, Best Writing Screenplay (this was a third category, and is not analogous to the Best Original or Best Adapted Screenplay categories we have now), Best Supporting Actress Susan Peters, Best Actor Ronald Coleman, Best Director Mervyn LeRoy and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were 49th Parallel, Kings Row, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Pied Piper, The Pride of the Yankees, The Talk of the Town, Wake Island, Yankee Doodle Dandy and winner Mrs. Miniver.
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.