Witness for the Prosecution

1957 American film directed by Billy Wilder

Witness for the Prosecution is a 1957 film about a man who is accused of murdering a rich woman for her fortune, and his German-immigrant wife (the title witness) and her testimony.

Directed by Billy Wilder. Written by Larry Marcus, Billy Wilder, and Harry Kurnitz, based on a short story by Agatha Christie.
Unmatched ...in a half century of motion picture suspense!

Sir Wilfrid Robarts

  • I am constantly surprised that women's hats do not provoke more murders.
  • My Lord, may I also remind my learned friend that his witness, by her own admission, has already violated so many oaths that I am surprised the Testament did not LEAP FROM HER HAND when she was sworn here today! I doubt if anything is to be gained by questioning you any further! That will be all, Frau Helm!

Miss Plimsoll

  • [last lines; hands Sir Wilfrid his thermos bottle] Sir Wilfrid, you've forgotten your brandy!


Leonard Vole: What are you looking for?
Christine Vole: My accordion.
Leonard Vole: [stepping on it] I think I've found it.
Christine Vole: Step on it again. It's still breathing.

Miss Plimsoll: Shall we roll up the window, Sir Wilfrid?
Sir Wilfrid: Just roll up your mouth, you talk too much. If I'd known how much you talk I'd never have come out of my coma.

Miss Plimsoll: I almost married a lawyer once. I was in attendance when he had his appendectomy, and we became engaged as soon as he could sit up... and then peritonitis set in and he went just like that!
Sir Wilfrid: He certainly was a lucky lawyer.

Sir Wilfrid: Give me a match.
Leonard Vole: Sorry, I don't carry matches.
Sir Wilfrid: [to Brogan-Moore] I thought you said I'd like him.
Leonard Vole: But I do have a lighter.
Sir Wilfird: You're quite right, I do like him.

Leonard Vole: But this is England, where I thought you never arrest, let alone convict, people for crimes they have not committed.
Sir Wilfrid: We try not to make a habit of it.

Sir Wilfrid: Be prepared for hysterics and even a fainting spell. Better have smelling salts handy and a nip of brandy.
Christine Vole: I do not think that will be necessary. I never faint because I am not sure that I will fall gracefully and I never use smelling salts because they puff up the eyes. I am Christine Vole.

Sir Wilfrid: I'd better take that thermos of cocoa with me. It helps me wash down down the pills.
Miss Plimsoll: Let me see. My learned patient is not above substituting brandy for cocoa. [opens thermos and smells] Sniff, sniff. It is cocoa. So sorry.
Sir Wilfrid: If you were a woman, Miss Plimsoll, I would strike you.

Janet Mackensie: Perhaps you can help me, your Lordship. Six months, I have applied for my hearing aid and I am still waiting for it.
Judge: My dear madame. Considering the rubbish that is being talked nowadays, you are missing very little.

[Sir Wilfrid is cross-examining Christine Helm.]
Sir Wilfrid: Mrs Vole. Or Mrs Helm; which do you prefer to be called?
Christine Helm: It does not matter.
Sir Wilfrid: Does it not? In this country, we are inclined to take a rather more serious view of marriage. However, Frau Helm, it would appear that when you first met the prisoner in Hamburg, you lied to him about your marital status?
Christine Helm: I wanted to get out of Germany, so—
Sir Wilfrid: You lied, did you not? Just yes or no, please.
Christine Helm: Yes.
Sir Wilfrid: Thank you. And subsequently, in arranging the marriage, you lied to the authorities?
Christine Helm: I, um, did not tell the truth to the authorities.
Sir Wilfrid: You lied to them?
Christine Helm: Yes.
Sir Wilfrid: And in the ceremony of marriage itself, when you swore to love and to honor and to cherish your husband, that, too, was a lie?
Christine Helm: Yes.
Sir Wilfrid: And when the police questioned you about this wretched man who believed himself married and loved, you told them—
Christine Helm: I told them what Leonard wanted me to say.
Sir Wilfrid: You told them that he was at home with you at 25 minutes past 9, and now you say that that was a lie? [beginning to chuckle now]
Christine Helm: Yes, a lie!
Sir Wilfrid: And when you said that he had accidentally cut his wrist, again, you lied? [chuckling again]
Christine Helm: Yes!
Sir Wilfrid: [chuckling further] And now today you've told us a new story entirely! [serious now] The question is, Frau Helm, were you lying then, are you lying now, or are you not in fact a chronic and habitual LIAR?!


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