Billy Wilder strips Marlene Dietrich of much more than her pantsuit leg in A Witness for the Prosecution. Dietrich relinquishes her role as the quintessential femme fatale to reveal a tamer, more vulnerable version of the sexy German vixen. Crisp and smart, Dietrich’s character Mrs. Christine Vole is called to testify as a witness for the prosecution at her husband’s murder trial.
Throughout, Dietrich’s character is seemingly polarized by the significantly less enticing and comedic Miss. Plimsoll the nurse whose function appears to be limited to her failing struggle to deny our hero the Barrister Robarts of his personal vices while he presents his defense. And yet here is the crux of the film – a woman must be either a nuisance or a murderess unless she sacrifice herself for a man’s sins. In contrast, her counterpart can only support a woman’s crime if it fits within his concept of justice – consider Detective Spade’s ultimate decision in Huston’s Maltese Falcon.
Nonetheless, an excellent Sunday afternoon diversion!
Quotable quote: “I am surprised the testament did not leap from her hands…”