Argumentative August #11 – Judgement at Nuremberg (1961)


Argumentative August #11 – Judgement at Nuremberg (1961) –

Rob and I would like to once again welcome you to another review for our Argumentative August Blogathon. This next film, Judgement at Nuremberg is being reviewed by Rob at Let’s see what he thought of this movie…

71 Judgement at Nuremberg (1961)One thing about Americans, we’re not cut out to be occupiers. We’re new at it and not very good at it. – Col. Tad Lawson

Number of Times Seen – at least 5 times (cable, DVD, 20 Jan 2013 and 19 Aug 2015)

Brief Synopsis – The dramatization of the war crimes trial of 4 Nazi judges in 1948 by the America occupying forces.

My Take on it – Being a fan of history and of the era surrounding WWII, this movie has always fascinated me.

The idea of making a story like this is ingenious.

When most of us think of Nazis, we think of soldiers causing despicable acts to civilians which in and of itself is baffling, but what about the men who upheld the law of their land out of honor to their country and not out of sadistic reasons?

Do these men deserve to be treated and tried like common criminals because they helped enforce the laws?

This movie delves deep into that question and I think it gives a solid answer after deliberating the issue for more than 3 hours.

The dialogue is superb and the back and forth courtroom banter is so entertaining to watch because it gives us depictions of so many emotions so vividly that we can’t help but try and take sides during this trail.

Despite its length of a tad over 3 hours, this movie isn’t boring in the least and keep the flow going by its quick courtroom dialogues and the way that the whole courtroom scenes are shot because we truly feel as if we are right there in the room with them.

This movie has an amazing cast and each and every one of them are perfect for their roles. Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster are both superb in two of the main roles.

This movie was nominated for 11 Oscars but only won two [screenplay and actor (Schell)].

It’s not an easy decision to choose between this and West Side Story (1961)for Best Picture of the year because the movies are so diametrically different in every way.

Bottom Line – Such a fabulously written movie that truly captures all of the emotions one would think of in a trial like this. Amazing cast led by the always dependable Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster. Despite being over 3 hours long, it moves by swiftly because of the subject matter and the way it was filmed in the courtroom. Hard to say whether this should have beaten West Side Story (1961) because both are very different movies and styles. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Maximilian Schell’s Oscar for Best Actor makes him the lowest-billed lead category winner in history. He is billed fifth, after Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark and Marlene Dietrich. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10)


3 thoughts on “Argumentative August #11 – Judgement at Nuremberg (1961)

  1. This is a great, great film! I saw this as a youngster and have been enthralled in it on the many occasions I have watched it since. The cast is purely sensational…………Spencer Tracy is a credit to the acting profession in this role. You can actually see the cogs turning in his mind as he contemplates the decisions he must make. The soul searching he must go through to make these decisions are firmly etched into his face and 90% of his performance is done without a word spoken. A treat to watch. The outstanding efforts continue………Richard Widmark is just perfect as the Prosecutor………..and the scene where he shows the Courtroom the films taken at Belsen etc. are just horrifying, even at today’s standard, and he justifiably gives the films their due commentary……….it is so sad and deeply touching and Widmark nails it. Max Schell was indeed a worthy Oscar winner as the Defence Attorney, Hans Rolfe, who completely destroys a couple of the witnesses in the stand. He knows that it is wrong, but he goes ahead anyway! A brilliant performance. Burt Lancaster doesn’t really have a lot to do, except to look quite solemn, until…………….he makes a speech towards the end and it’s a beauty!
    Someone once said, “There’s no such thing as a small role, only small actors!” This is perfectly true when it comes to the performances of Montgomery Clift and Judy Garland. Garland is again perfect, as she breaks down in the witness stand, after the continuous berating by Rolfe. But it is Montgomery Clift, who practically steals the film with a spot-on 5 minute performance that will leave the viewer completely destroyed. He goes from quite a well-dressed, good-looking man to a dishevelled mess in his brief screen time. A magical performance!
    Marlene Dietrich performs well and…………OMG, that’s William Shatner as Tracy’s assistant.
    Should be in the high ranks of the Greatest Motion Pictures of all Time!
    Every Man, Woman and Child (over 15) should be made to watch and cherish this film!

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