Witness for the Prosecution, Happy Anniversary! A Delicious Treat Served, February 6th, 1958?



First the Appetizer:

Witness for the Prosecution had its World Premiere in Los Angeles, at the Warner Beverly Hills Theater (9404 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills), on December 17, 1957; thereby qualifying for the 1958 Academy Awards.[1] Of course film-exhibitors, circuit officials, industry executives and press representatives were invited to a preview on November 19, 1957; this sneak-showing was held at the Victoria Theatre, located at 233 West 125th Street, New York City.[2]

Film Bulletin December 9, 1957

Film Bulletin December 9, 1957


And, Witness for the Prosecution, opened nationally on February 6, 1958. Well not quite. Or as the film’s leading man, Charles Laughton said when asked about acting schools, “I reply that it is all drivel.”[3] The notion that Witness for the Prosecution, opened nationwide on February 6, 1958 is drivel. Most likely this was derived from the New York opening of the film, which began playing at the Astor and Plaza Theatres on February 6.[4] Witness for the Prosecution, was seen in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Saturday night at midnight, February 1, 1958, with regular showings beginning on Sunday, February 2. In fact, according to trade-papers, Witness, was available for January, 1958 openings.[5]

Motion Picture Daily, November 22, 1957

Motion Picture Daily, November 22, 1957

Fairbanks_Daily_News_Miner_ Fairbanks, Alaska, Sat__Feb_1__1958_

Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Fairbanks, Alaska, February 1, 1958


Now, on to the main-course:

Umm, umm, good! Witness for the Prosecution is delightful like a Shepherd’s Pie, an all-in-one-meal, all of the staples needed for your diet plus some gravy to make it taste just that much better, add a little cheese on top of the mashed potatoes and you have the perfect recipe; welcome to what Witness is: bite-full after bite-full of wonderful comfort-food for the emotions and eyes.

This film, based on Agatha Christie’s play of the same name, is quite a dish, made up of nearly every genre and it is stronger for it, not weakened as some films are which have tried too many ingredients in the pan. Witness for the Prosecution blends perfectly differing elements to finish with what is without a doubt a great-time at the movies. Director Billy Wilder mixes here his flair for comedy and drama, adding in romance, lust, devotion to a fault and marvelous bantering, all of these coming to together to form a film which keeps us coming back for more, just like any good comfort-food does.

Witness was nominated for 6 Academy Awards for: Best Picture, Charles Laughton for Best Actor, Elsa Lanchester for Best Supporting Actress, Billy Wilder for Best Director and Daniel Mandell for Film Editing. As well Elsa Lanchester won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and Witness was nominated for Best Motion Picture by the Edgar Allan Poe Awards. Laughton and Lanchester became the second married couple (Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne for The Guardsman, 1931, were the first) to be nominated for Oscars for the same film. Hopes dashed and one would assume embarrassed, Marlene Dietrich had predicted that she would be nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Christine in Witness for the Prosecution, and of course was not, she went so far as to include her prognostication in her Las Vegas show.[6]


witness-for-the-prosecution-elsa-lanchesterWitness-for-the-Prosecution.-Marlene-Dietrich-2witness02 witness-for-the-prosecution-tyrone-power


Independent_Press_Telegram_ Long beach, California Sun__Dec_29__1957_

Independent Press Telegram, Long Beach, California, December 29, 1957



By C. S. Williams


[1] Motion Picture Daily, November 19, 1957

Film Bulletin, December 9, 1957

[2] Motion Picture Daily, November 20, 1957

[3] Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah) February 1, 1958

Quote from Charles Laughton in the article from the Salt Lake Tribune, February 1, 1958:

To the question of acting schools, Laughton said in a mild moment in his discourse to the interviewer,”

‘I reply that it is all drivel. Acting is talent, and that is all there is to it, no matter what school with its elaborate philosophy of acting you might have attended. Marlon Brando is a good actor, not because of whatever-the-name-of-it-is, that school in New York.’”

[4] New York Times (New York, New York) February 7, 1958

[5] Motion Picture Daily, November 22, 1957

Film Bulletin, December 23, 1957

[6] TCM


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